Trump Admin Weighs Shielding Venezuelan Migrants from Deportation

Senior officials at the State Department have been seriously weighing whether to push to protect Venezuelans in the U.S. from deportation, according to internal communications The Daily Beast reviewed.

People from several other countries, including Somalia and Yemen, currently have the same Temporary Protected Status status, which also grants migrants short-term work permits. But extending the policy to Venezuelans would be an atypical step for the Trump administration, which has taken steps to end TPS for people from half a dozen other countries. Some Trump administration allies consider the move tantamount to granting “amnesty” to those who have violated immigration laws.

Officials have explored the process in great detail, according to the communications, but there is not consensus in the department on the issue. Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special envoy for Venezuela, has participated in the discussions, as has Sec. Mike Pompeo.

A spokesperson for the State Department declined to comment, citing internal deliberations.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for deciding which countries’ citizens receive protection under the program, but any recommendation from the State Department will have significant weight.

Some Trump administration officials say they fear TPS would result in more immigration to the U.S. from Venezuela, weakening opposition to Nicolas Maduro’s government by providing to some of its fiercest challengers an incentive to leave the country. One official involved in the interagency discussions called it “the Maduro protection plan.” Meanwhile, some Congressional Republicans have argued forcefully for the policy. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, backs legislation to provide TPS to Venezuelans, even though the administration can do so without any Congressional support.

By Betsy Woodruff for DAILY BEAST

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