Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans

President Biden has provided TPS by executive order for tens of thousands of Venezuelans living in the United States illegally.

TPS was created by Congress to provide legal status for aliens unable or unwilling to leave the United States and return to their homeland because of temporarily unsettled conditions due to the political or security situation, or natural disaster. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro’s harsh dictatorship and economic collapse are the justification for the TPS action.

However, the Trump administration reacted differently. At the close of his term, President Trump ordered a temporary ban on deportation of Venezuelans, but without giving them TPS. That was a measure that had the effect of offering temporary protection against deportation without conferring legal status. The background for that action was the fact that TPS had been consistently abused by prior administrations to the extent that ending TPS became a political issue. President Trump decided to face that political issue by ending TPS designation for some of the nationals who had been given that status many years earlier.

The other reason TPS is controversial is that no distinction is made in the designation between those from a TPS country who entered or stayed illegally in the U.S. and those who came after conditions in the home country deteriorated. This distinction means that TPS is granted equally to illegal aliens who have no intent to return to their homeland as soon as conditions improve and those who seek to return as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Trump administration, while providing humanitarian protection for some Venezuelans, stopped short of offering TPS to those with the intent of violating our national sovereignty. It was a very much needed step in ending the abuse inherent in the TPS system. Unfortunately, The Biden administration has now undone that needed change and restored use of the inappropriate TPS provision.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

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