WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill that seeks to protect thousands of Venezuelans currently living in the United States from deportation by granting them Temporary Protected Status failed Tuesday in the House of Representatives.
A total of 154 Republicans voted against the measure, denying it the support of two-thirds of the chamber’s 435 voting members, a benchmark required for legislation considered under a procedure used to quickly pass non-controversial bills and known as “suspension of the rules.” The 268 votes in favor included 37 Republicans.
Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, R-Florida, a co-sponsor, said he and others will seek a new vote in regular order to pass the bill.
A corresponding TPS has not move forward in the Senate since it was introduced in February.
TPS is usually granted by the Department of Homeland Security to people from countries ravaged by natural disasters or war and lets them remain in the U.S. until the situation improves back home.
“Granting Venezuelans TPS is one of the most bipartisan immigration acts each of us as member of Congress can take right now,” said the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Darren Soto, a Florida Democrat.
But Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alaska, opposed the bill because “the United States of America can no longer afford to be the world’s orphanage for children and adults alike” and requested a roll call, dashing the Democrats hope of swiftly getting approval with a voice vote.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates 200,000 Venezuelans currently living in the United States could receive TPS.
Venezuelan nationals would be eligible to get the migratory relief and work permits valid for 18 months if they have been continuously present in the U.S. since the bill’s enactment and apply paying a $360 fee.
President Donald Trump said in June his administration was considering granting TPS to thousands of Venezuelans who have fled to the U.S. amid ongoing unrest.
But Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said last week that such a decision is “more complicated” given recent court rulings.
Cuccinelli made the argument in his reply to a March letter sent by 23 Democratic senators and Republican Marco Rubio of Florida to Trump asking him to give the protection to Venezuelans in the U.S.
The Trump administration was one of the first to recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, a measure that was adopted later by more than 50 other nations. Those countries allege that president Nicolás Maduro’s re-election in 2018 was fraudulent.
Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo