Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Venezuelan Refugees and Sanctuary Cities

You can't compartmentalize policy. Laws aimed at one issue touch other issues as well. In Florida, lawmakers' desire to attack undocumented migrants by prohibiting sanctuary cities ran straight into the need for undocumented Venezuelan refugees to be safe from deportation. Despite all the talk about humanitarian assistance, the Trump administration has refused to provide Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan migrants. So if they get caught up in any kind of law enforcement, they will be deported.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, the number of Venezuelans in the U.S. went from 216,000 in 2014 to 351,000 in 2017, and we know it continues to grow. The state with the largest Venezuelan population by far is Florida.  Many Venezuelans have visas, but then will eventually overstay them. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the number of Venezuelans deported nationally is small in comparative terms, up from 248 in FY 2017 to 336 in FY 2018 (if you're wondering Mexico was at 141,045 for FY 2018). But that will also grow.

From a purely strategic domestic standpoint, this undermines the administration's effort to gain votes by being tough with Nicolás Maduro. It's a state law, of course, not a federal one, but the administration has been clear that it also intensely dislikes the idea of sanctuary cities. Problem is, sometimes they protect your political allies.


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