Washington (July 18, 2023) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined 21 colleagues, led by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to redesignate Venezuela and Nicaragua for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS offers temporary relief from removal and access to work permits for eligible foreign nationals who are unable to return safely to their home countries due to natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. 

“Both of these countries clearly qualify for a TPS designation under our immigration laws and merit the use of the Executive’s statutory designation authority,” wrote the senators. “Many nationals from Venezuela and Nicaragua residing in the United States have been protected because of the current TPS designation. TPS has enabled them to find safety and security and afforded them the ability to work legally to support themselves and their families. In turn, they can contribute meaningfully to their communities back home, which helps stabilize their home countries. 

The senators’ letter continues, “A redesignation of TPS for each of these countries would extend these same benefits to individuals already in the United States. Redesignations would also provide critically needed support to states and localities around the country working to provide welcome by allowing TPS recipients to work.”

The senators’ letter concludes, “Given the extraordinary humanitarian crises in these countries, we urge you to use your authority under the law provided by Congress to redesignate Venezuela and Nicaragua for TPS.”

The Administration first designated Venezuela for TPS for a period of 18 months in March 2021. Since that time, Venezuela continues to be plagued by violence, instability, and repression, with Venezuelans suffering from the country’s historic collapse. Nicolás Maduro’s discredited and repressive regime has been responsible for widespread human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, forced disappearances, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers by nonstate actors. 

Nicaragua was last designated for TPS in January 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in October 1998. That designation has been extended several times, but was terminated by the prior Administration. The termination was blocked by a preliminary injunction, and the original designation was reinstated and extended for 18 months in June 2023. In recent years, conditions in Nicaragua have sharply declined, warranting the country’s TPS redesignation. President Daniel Ortega returned to power in 2007 and began dismantling the country’s democratic structures. In recent years, he has worked to consolidate power, transforming Nicaragua “into a police state in which the executive branch has instituted a regime of terror and of suppression of all freedoms through control and surveillance of the citizenry and repression by state and parastate security institutions supported by the other branches of government.” 

Along with Senators Markey, Durbin, Menendez, Schumer, and Gillibrand, the letter was signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai'i), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Organizations endorsing this letter include: Immigration Hub, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), AFL-CIO, American Business Immigration Coalition ACTION, UNITE HERE, National Immigration Law Center, Friends Committee on National Legislation, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), The Central American Resource Center of Northern CA - CARECEN SF, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, the Venezuelan American Caucus, UnidosUS, Working Families United, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Justice in Motion, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and CASA.

Full text of today’s letter is available HERE.