As Venezuelan tensions rise, report underscores urgent need for Temporary Protected Status

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Escalating political tensions and protests in Venezuela this week illustrate the threats awaiting Venezuelans currently in the United States should they be forced to return. CLINIC’s new report, Lives in the Balance: Why TPS is Needed for Venezuela Now, summarizes why the law and basic human decency call for the Trump administration to designate Temporary Protected Status. TPS would protect Venezuelans from being forcibly returned to an unstable, physically dangerous homeland.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that at least 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled their country since 2014. In 2018, the report notes, 5,000 people a day left the country. CLINIC estimates that at least 72,000 Venezuelans could be protected through TPS.

Venezuelans who have not fled face bleak conditions: 80 percent of households are “food insecure,” and one third of the population are only able to afford one meal a day. Experts say the country’s health care system is in “utter collapse,” with 71 percent of emergency rooms unable to provide basic services. Even more hospitals lack a reliable source of water. Diseases including measles and diphtheria have resurged, with thousands of cases reported in the last two years.

The report also explains the law providing for TPS, the legal grounds which apply to Venezuela and why such a designation is in humanitarian and U.S. national interests. Despite growing bipartisan support in Congress and widespread calls by humanitarian, faith and human rights organizations, the administration has hesitatedto designate TPS for Venezuela. In fact, the United States deported 35 percent more Venezuelans in 2018 than in the previous year.

“Safe return is impossible at this time for Venezuelans in the United States,” said Lisa Parisio, CLINIC’s attorney for policy and outreach, author of the report. “Congress established TPS for exactly this situation. The administration has repeatedly pledged its support to the Venezuelan people. TPS should be part of our baseline humanitarian response.”

TPS would allow eligible Venezuelans in the United States to remain here until conditions improve in their home country, deferring their risk of being deported. TPS also allows recipients to have temporary work authorization so they can support themselves while they are in the United States, as well as potentially send life-sustaining financial support to relatives who remain in the home country.

CLINIC’s TPS experts are available for further information.