Venezuelans Would Get Protected Status Under Bipartisan Proposal

(Bloomberg) -- Two U.S. House members from Florida are offering a bipartisan proposal to make Venezuelans fleeing their country eligible for temporary protected status, the special immigration channel for foreign nationals threatened by war or disaster.

Representatives Darren Soto, a Democrat, and Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, are introducing legislation to extend the status to Venezuelans, who have lived through economic collapse and a dramatic erosion of democratic institutions under President Nicolas Maduro.

Florida is home to one of the largest -- and fastest growing -- diaspora Venezuelan communities, and Soto said their numbers now total in the millions. But Venezuelans have also fanned out across Latin America and other parts of the U.S., including Texas.

"We must not force Venezuelans who have sought safety in the United States to return to such dangerous conditions," Diaz-Balart said.

The proposal comes before a Congress that has had shown little ability to address immigration questions and is stuck in a stalemate with President Donald Trump over border security that has partially shutdown the government.

The Trump administration has accused Maduro of stealing the election and called his government illegitimate.

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