A new Spanish-language ad from Mike Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC is hitting the Donald Trump administration over claims officials deported a number of Venezuelan migrants over the past year despite a 2019 order banning flights to Venezuela.
That order from the Federal Aviation Administration would have theoretically blocked the U.S. from sending those individuals back to Venezuela.
“There are no flights to Venezuela at this time,” Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó told Univision. “If there are no flights to Venezuela, there can be no deportations.”
But Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said that’s not the case, stating “new documents provided to my office confirm that U.S. deportations to Venezuela continued via third countries at least until March 2020.”
Those migrants were apparently sent through Trinidad and Tobago. Menendez said he’s obtained information showing more than 100 Venezuelans were departed from Oct. 2019-Feb. 2020. He’s now asking the State Department for a detailed count of Venezuelans who were removed from the U.S. during this time span.
Bloomberg’s group is now launching a Spanish-language spot in Miami-Dade County to bring attention to the report.
“For generations, America has been a refuge for those fleeing strife, violence, and persecution in their home countries – that’s why so many Venezuelans have fled [Nicolás] Maduro’s oppressive regime to come here,” Bloomberg said in a statement released alongside the ad.
“Donald Trump hasn’t just denied them asylum and the protections they deserve, he has sent them back to Maduro with secret deportations. As President, Joe Biden will restore America’s place as a beacon for democracy by granting Temporary Protection Status (TPS) to Venezuelans and ensuring the safety of future refugees seeking freedom from oppression.”
Democrats have pushed for legislation granting TPS to Venezuelans in light of the turmoil in that country. The GOP Senate has blocked the measure.
Bloomberg has promised to spend $100 million to help Biden defeat Trump this fall. The new ads targeting South Florida are part of that effort. Last week, Bloomberg launched two different ad campaigns aimed at convincing Florida’s seniors to back Biden.