Florida politicians began expressing their support for expanding a temporary program that would allow Venezuelans who have fled Nicolás Maduro’s regime to stay in the United States, aligning themselves with a growing chorus of Venezuelan activists who are pushing the Trump administration to take additional action.
Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday at an event in Little Haiti that he wants the Trump administration to grant Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan nationals already in the United States.
“Just as in Haiti with natural disasters, there is a political disaster in Venezuela,” Nelson said. “Increasingly, with the economic chaos in Venezuela... I think Venezuelans ought to be considered.”
The TPS program allows foreign nationals already in the United States from 10 countries to stay in the United States for a designated period of time. President Donald Trump, who continues to espouse a tough-on-immigration line in Washington, hasn’t indicated that he’s open to extending the program to another country.
President Trump, not Congress, must make the decision.
Nelson’s position has bipartisan support, as Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said they support extending TPS to Venezuelans.
“I'm in favor of TPS for Venezuelans, as well as for Haitians and other groups in our community who contribute greatly to our area and whose native country lacks the most basic commodities,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “However, raising false hopes is not productive so I advocate for our immigration system to be more compassionate when individual cases come before those officials.”
“I strongly support granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to all eligible Venezuelans who seek safe haven from a regime that has employed official violence and political oppression, and left that nation devastated by food and medical shortages,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “President Trump must grant this essential status for the safety of Venezuelans who came to the U.S. out of fear for theirs and their families’ safety.”
Republicans Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz-Balart and Rick Scott, who have all urged tough sanctions against Venezuela after Maduro installed a constituent assembly with the power to rewrite the nation’s constitution, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the TPS program.