Dozens of groups, including organizations that advocate for Venezuelan immigrants, are calling on Florida Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to support legislation reintroduced to the Senate earlier this year that would put Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients onto a path to legalization and citizenship.
The SECURE Act, reintroduced by more than two dozen Senate Democrats in February, would solidify the status of TPS recipients, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for years now and face being uprooted without permanent relief, the groups said. According to the National Immigration Forum, Florida is home to one of the largest TPS populations in the nation.
“The average TPS holder has been in the United States for more than 20 years, contributing to the country’s economy and helping rebuild and recover from the pandemic,” the organizations and leaders tell the Republicans. “Many of them are mixed citizen/immigrant families who have purchased homes and opened businesses, paid taxes, attended schools and places of worship.”
”Despite being an integral part of our communities, TPS holders live in a constant state of uncertainty, needing to reapply to the program every 6 to 18 months and pay substantial fees,” they continue. Recipients have further endured repeated attacks on the program by the previous administration, only escalating this uncertainty. “It is time to end the uncertainty and make these protections permanent so that families and states like Florida can move forward.”
The Biden administration last month fulfilled a campaign promise made to Venezuelan families who fled President Nicolás Maduro’s brutal regime by announcing that it would be granting temporary protections to hundreds of thousands of eligible Venezuelans currently living in the U.S. without legal status. Orlando Sentinel reported that the administration’s action “produced something extraordinary on Monday: bipartisan praise,” including from both Rubio and Scott.
But it’s easy for Rubio and Scott to either just criticize or praise an action by the Biden administration and then do nothing else. Groups are now demanding they act. NBC News reports that while both “have focused on U.S. policy toward Venezuela, they have catered less toward the Venezuelan community in the state,” according to Venezuelan immigrant and advocate Karen Garcia. “It’s imperative they do something for the Venezuelan community here,” she said in the report.
“In emails, neither U.S. senator directly answered whether they would support the Secure Act to put TPS holders on the road to legalization,” NBC News reported. But the ridiculous statement that Scott’s office did give appears to be setting the stage for him to possibly use the southern border as an excuse to not act on legislation (as other Republicans have also done concerning other immigration bills).
“Immigration reform becomes much more simple once the border is secure and that’s where the conversation must begin,” Scott’s office claimed according to NBC News. “President Biden and the Democrats caused this border crisis with their radical open borders and amnesty policies—which hurts hardworking Americans and the millions of immigrants going through the legal process.”
But the Biden administration has kept the previous administration’s Title 42 policy quickly deporting most asylum-seekers in place, despite fierce outcry from members of Congress and advocates. Then over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the number of unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection custody had fallen nearly 90% since March. In other words, Rick is running out of excuses.
“We thank you for your strong commitment to restoring democracy to Venezuela, and we ask you to continue that commitment by co-sponsoring the SECURE Act, which will deliver stability and a path to citizenship to an estimated 650,000 TPS holders, including more than 320,000Venezuelans, who have built their lives in the U.S,” the groups said.
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