With anti-government protests persisting in Venezuela, Miami Congressman Joe Garcia has asked President Barack Obama to grant more political asylum applications from and cease deportations to the South American country.
In a letter to Obama sent Monday, Garcia said the latest unrest, which Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has blamed in part on the United States, makes Venezuelans who have lived in the U.S. a target if they return home.
“These people not only have a legitimate fear of persecution” if they return to Venezuela, Garcia told the Miami Herald. “They’ve also become a part of our community.”
Garcia, a Democrat whose district extends from Kendall to Key West, asked the president to use his executive power to “employ all possible actions” to assist Venezuelans, including authorizing a special immigration designation that would allow them to legally live and work in the U.S. That designation, known as Deferred Enforced Departure, has been granted to Liberians who fled armed conflict.