“TPS is based on law and is a legal immigration status, as opposed to delayed forced departure. This is why we are relaunching our campaign to support those fleeing the misery caused by the Maduro regime ”, he said of the bill, shared first with POLITICO.
Democrats were quick to point out that Trump’s last-minute decision to offer DED does not replace the need to give Venezuelans TPS. While the delayed departure program and TPS allow beneficiaries to live and work legally in the United States, immigration experts say a protected status designation is enshrined in law and has some legal framework. The DED is not an immigration status and is granted at the discretion of the President.
Menendez, Democrats and Republicans in Florida have been pushing for years to grant Venezuelans the TPS, but efforts to convince Trump or pass it into law have failed. In 2019, the Democratic-led House passed a bipartisan bill to grant the TPS to Venezuelans. But the legislation was blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Now Menendez is confident Congress can do it with Democrats in the majority and the Biden administration backing the effort. President Joe Biden, while campaigning, has said on several occasions that he will extend TPS to Venezuelans.
Extending status to Venezuelans would protect around 200,000 Venezuelan citizens in the United States from deportation, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
The TPS is used to protect immigrants who come from countries devastated by natural disasters or armed conflicts. It’s the same temporary legal status that the Trump administration announced it would phase out in 2018 for more than 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan and Nepal over the next few years. . As part of Biden’s immigration plan, TPS recipients would be eligible for automatic green cards.
The bill – co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) And Cory Booker (DN.J.) – marks another effort by top Democrats to place immigration at the center of attention now that Biden is in office. Menendez is also leading the Senate efforts to pass Biden’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and address the root causes of migration in from Central America.
Menendez said last week that his office plans to introduce the radical bill within the next three weeks with the aim of passing it this year to avoid it falling into the challenges of election year 2022.
But despite being in the majority, Democrats will face an uphill battle to push through a major immigration package. Menendez has already acknowledged that any large-scale bill will require negotiations with Republicans to get at least 10 GOP members to pass in the Senate.
In the meantime, some Democrats and immigrant advocates are pushing for smaller bills to be quickly promoted, providing legal status to the country’s undocumented immigrants. One of the efforts is to provide essential undocumented workers with legal status through reconciliation.