HR 161: Venezuelan TPS Act of 2021


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Venezuela's TPS ActVenezuela is currently facing “the second largest migration crisis” in the world. More than five million people have left the country in the last five years. Many Venezuelans view the United States as a potential refuge for escaping extreme poverty in Venezuela. To help accommodate refugees, MP Darren Soto (D-FL-9) presented HR 161: Venezuela’s TPS Act of 2021 in the House of Representatives. The law will grant Venezuelan refugees temporary protected status (TPS) and other powers.

HR 161: Venezuelan TPS Act of 2021

Introduced on January 4, 2021, the Venezuelan TPS Act of 2021 is a bill that would make Venezuelan citizens eligible for temporary protected status, allowing refugees to stay, work and travel in the United States for 18 months from the date the bill becomes law.

Many Venezuelan refugees had to completely abandon their old lives and look for better ones without thinking about a plan. Given that 96% of Venezuelans live in poverty, it is clear that there are very few opportunities left in Venezuela. As a result, Venezuelans need support and opportunities to succeed in a country that is not theirs. On 4 March 2021, the Chamber referred the bill to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship for further consideration.

Accepting refugees benefits the United States

In the U.S., it is currently facing labor shortages in low-skilled jobs after COVID-19. According to a conference committee survey, 85% of companies in the blue collar industry have employment problems. These jobs range from factory to service jobs with commercial fast food employers.

Venezuelan refugees are eager to work and earn a living for their families in essentially any role. Many U.S. citizens are not interested in such jobs and possess degrees that make them more suitable for a white collar. However, most Venezuelan citizens would be more than willing to fulfill these roles. This allows refugees to earn an income, while at the same time helping the United States reduce labor shortages. In this way, the Venezuelan TPS law will help the American economy, while it will provide Venezuelans with a way out of poverty.

Notice of the Federal Register of TPS

On March 9, 2021, the Federal Registry issued a notice that Venezuela would be granted TPS for 18 months until September 9, 2022, just five days after Congress submitted the bill to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. President Biden approved this addition as part of his campaign promises. This supplement makes 323,000 Venezuelan people eligible for the same rights expressed in the 2021 Venezuelan TPS Act. However, the law still lives in the House.

Colombia is a good example of an open door refugee policy. Colombia has been a leader in the refugee crisis, awarding TPS to Venezuelan refugees for up to 10 years. This helped almost two million Venezuelans in the process. It is important to understand that most Venezuelan refugees do not want to settle permanently in the new country and would rather return to Venezuela when the country is no longer under the dictatorship of President Nicolás Maduro. In a survey conducted by the GBAO, 79% of Venezuelan refugees said they would likely return to Venezuela if they replaced the president as an “opponent of the Maduro regime” and the economy improved.

Extended TPS for Venezuelans

It will probably take more than 18 months to improve the home country, given the scale of the crisis in Venezuela. As a result, the U.S. should grant Venezuela a TPS for more than 18 months. This change falls on the members of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship as the Subcommittee is responsible for considering and proposing amendments to the TPS law in Venezuela. Increasing the TPS range in Venezuela would provide long-term stability to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees, while the U.S. would meet labor needs.

The Venezuelan TPS Act of 2021 provides a better future for Venezuelan refugees. Amending the law to bring Colombia’s provision on a 10-year TPS for Venezuelan refugees will provide long-term protection and support as refugees wait for the end of the crisis in Venezuela to return home.

Jeremy Long
Photo: Flickr

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