WASHINGTON –?U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the below statement in reaction to the Biden administration’s decision to extend but not to re-designate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status:
“I commend the Biden administration’s decision to extend the registration period for Venezuela Temporary Protected Status beyond the September 9, 2022 deadline. The extension will enable tens of thousands of Venezuelans who arrived before March 18, 2021 – and who have not yet submitted their TPS application – to regularize their status and begin their lives anew in the United States.
“I am disappointed and surprised, however, by the Administration’s decision to forgo a re-designation. Nearly half a million Venezuelans have fled their homeland since last year’s TPS designation, bringing the total number of refugees from Venezuela to over six million. Since last March, hundreds of thousands of those refugees have arrived in the United States. Based on today’s announcement, these refugees will inexplicably be ineligible for TPS, the legal protection Congress designed for refugees who cannot safely return home. Today’s decision relegates hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans into a life of vulnerability and marginalization in the United States. The Venezuelan people have endured poverty, repression, and the systemic collapse of healthcare, education, electricity, and water infrastructure. They deserve every opportunity to work, go to school, and live a life free of fear, including here in the United States. I will continue to push the Administration to utilize the TPS authority for Venezuelans and other refugees in the Western Hemisphere as it has appropriately done for refugees coming from elsewhere.
“I urge the Administration to reconsider its decision, and to utilize existing legal authorities to ensure that Venezuelans are given a fair chance at succeeding in the United States. Rather than force Venezuelans to rely on smuggling networks to seek safety in the U.S., the Administration still has the opportunity to develop an alternative immigration pathway as it has rightly done for Ukrainians. Our Venezuelan brothers and sisters face direct and immediate threats to their lives. We can and must do better.”
Last week, Chairman Menendez led 21 of his Senate colleagues in a letter calling on the Administration to continue to protect displaced Venezuelans by extending and re-designating Venezuela for TPS. The letter underscored the Maduro regime’s crimes against humanity in addition to the uptick in armed violence in Venezuela, growing humanitarian needs, and unprecedented displacement crisis as cause for re-designation.