Monday, August 05, 2019

TPS for Venezuelans

The Trump administration officially does not like Temporary Protected Status because it is not temporary enough. As the leader of a think tank committed to drastically curtailing immigration put it, "the 'guest' never leaves." Therefore, even while U.S. policy helps push Venezuelans to emigrate, the administration is not eager to protect them if they come here.

The problem with that position is that it runs directly against the hardline Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American constituencies that Trump courts. They applauded when Trump seemed serious about invading Venezuela or otherwise forcing regime change, but now it's clear that he was lying to them. That means there is some political pressure--often channeled through Marco Rubio--to appease them. That in turn leads to ideas about how to give Venezuelans TPS without calling it TPS.

"We're committed to ensure that no Venezuelan is sent back to a situation where they'll be persecuted by the government of Venezuela or by the dictatorship that is usurping democracy in Venezuela," a senior administration official told NPR and other news outlets Friday. 
 "We all understand and we're very cognizant of the risks that Venezuelans face being sent back," the official said. "In that regard, whether it's called TPS, or something else, there is a host of mechanisms that are under consideration that we're looking at."

For Syrians, the administration extended TPS without redesignating it, so no one new can apply. They could do that for Venezuelans, but it's tricky because more will definitely be coming. The same is true for Haitians and others.

Venezuela is different from other countries because there is a real political bloc behind it, and its members are largely in Florida, which Trump narrowly won in 2016. As the Democratic candidates find their way to Florida, they'll be bringing this up. Global Americans is keeping track of how the candidates talk about Latin America, and Venezuela is mostly mentioned in terms of opposing armed action. If Trump resists TPS or TPS-like solutions, I would be surprised if the candidates didn't milk it to Florida audiences.


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