Washington D.C., Apr 5, 2019 / 16:01 pm
Catholic leaders issued a letter Thursday to United States government officials asking for a temporary legal status for thousands Venezuelan nationals who would otherwise risk returning to a hazardous crisis.
The April 4 letter asks of the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State that Venezuela be designated for temporary protected status for 18 months.
TPS allows people who are unable to return safely to their home countries because of armed conflict, other violence, natural disasters, or other extraordinary conditions to remain in the United States while the situation in their home country resolves. It protects them from deportation and grants them permission to work.
The letter was signed by Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman to the USCCB Committee on Migration, and by Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services.
“Given the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, its nationals cannot safely be returned home at this time,” the letter read.
According to the letter, an estimated 150,000 Venezuelans would qualify for TPS.
Since Nicolas Maduro became president of Venezuela in 2013, the country has been marred by violence and social upheaval. Under the socialist government, the country has seen severe shortages and hyperinflation, and an estimated 3 million have emigrated.
“Our nation has the legal ability, as well as the moral responsibility, to provide Venezuelans in the U.S. with temporary protection,” wrote Callahan and Bishop Vasquez.