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Darren Soto, Mario Diaz-Balart

Federal

Darren Soto, Mario Diaz-Balart bill granting protected status for Venezuelans advances

Bill could mark first time TPS generated in Congress.

Federal legislation granting “Temporary Protected Status” to Venezuelan refugees passed in the House Judiciary Committee and now heads to the floor.

U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Darren Soto, the Florida congressmen behind the bill (HR 549), heralded the move.

“This critically important bill would provide Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan nationals who currently reside in the United States after fleeing the oppressive, socialist [Nicolas] Maduro dictatorship,” said Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican.

“Due to the brutality, corruption, extreme shortages of food and medicine, crime, and near total collapse of Venezuela’s economy, it would be unconscionable to force those who fled the dictatorship to return now.”

Soto, an Orlando Democrat, urged swift passage by Congress and President Donald Trump.

“The growing turmoil and dire humanitarian crisis in Venezuela under Maduro’s tyranny is forcing millions into exile,” he said.

“In Florida alone, there are hundreds of thousands of political-asylum seekers who face persecution and even death upon return to their country. With the historic passage of this bill out of Committee, we are acknowledging the struggle of the Venezuelan people and working to lend a helping hand.”

The legislation, if successful, would mark the first time TPS status comes from Congress, Soto said.

Florida Democrats quickly undercut the bipartisan nature of the bill and attacked Republicans voting against the measure in the House.

“Earlier this year, Florida Democrats urged the Trump Administration to immediately grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the U.S., and stop the increasing number of detentions and deportations of Venezuelans under the Trump administration,” reads a release from the Florida Democratic Party.

The party collected quotes from Florida’s Democratic lawmakers who supported the House measure.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Miami Democrat, co-sponsored the legislation but suggested Trump could act immediately.

“Even after promising to help the Venezuelan people, the Trump Administration has continued deporting Venezuelans,” she said.

“After talking to the Administration and requesting they grant Venezuelans TPS, Trump has failed to act. We have exhausted every possible avenue making the bipartisan legislative remedy necessary.”

Notably, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, signed a letter alongside 23 Democrats urging Trump to designate TPS for Venezuelans.

Florida Democrats pounced on the fact Sen. Rick Scott failed to sign that letter, but he said he too supports TPS for those fleeing the Maduro regime.

Rubio supported separate legislation passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday supporting emergency relief for Venezuelans.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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