Bishops commend Biden for protecting Venezuelans from deportation

Venezuela_Shutterstock_Reynaldo_Riobueno.jpg May 3, 2017 Deputy of the National Assembly holds a Venezuelan flag when the protest in Caracas is repressed by the Bolivarian National Guard with tear gas. Credit: Reynaldo Riobueno/Shutterstock

The U.S. bishops' conference praised the Biden administration on Thursday for granting special immigration status for Venezuelans to remain and work in the United States.

The Biden administration announced on Monday that it would be designating Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the next 18 months. Citizens of countries granted TPS are permitted to work and live in the United States and are shielded from deportation, due to conditions in their home country that would endanger them upon their return.

"We commend this just and humane decision by the Administration, which will provide much needed relief to those Venezuelans already present in the United States," said a statement released on Thursday by Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford. 

Bishop Dorsonville is the chairman of the U.S. bishops' conference (USCCB) migration committee, while Bishop Malloy leads the USCCB international justice and peace committee. 

They cited a dire situation in the country that would imperil the well-being of Venezuelans deported from the U.S.

"The situation in Venezuela has been steadily deteriorating over the past decade, resulting in civil unrest, severe food insecurity, and loss of life," said the bishops. "Unfortunately, many Venezuelans will continue to be impacted by the conditions that warranted this designation."

Venezuela for years has suffered from violence and social unrest, with shortages of essential items such as food and medicine, hyperinflation, high unemployment, and power outages. The Catholic aid group Caritas has noted that 90% of Venezuelans live in poverty, and more than three million people have left the country on foot in the last three years.

The country's bishops have pushed for regime change from the current socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro.

Dorsonville and Malloy encouraged the Biden administration to "work toward addressing these conditions through diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, and international relief efforts that seek to promote and preserve human life." 

They added that they "continue to stand in solidarity with our Venezuelan brothers and sisters, and we pray for an end to the circumstances that perpetuate their suffering."

"May Our Lady of Coromoto, patroness of Venezuela, comfort them in their time of need," they said. 

Venezuela may again be designated for TPS after the initial 18 months, if the situation there has not yet improved. 

Other TPS-designated countries include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. 

According to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services website, "The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country: Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war); An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic; [or] Other extraordinary and temporary conditions." 

The Trump administration attempted to remove the TPS designation from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan, but was stymied from doing so by a series of lawsuits.

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