- The Biden administration extended protections to Venezuelans seeking escape from the Maduro dictatorship in Florida
- Florida lawmakers across both parties were among the largest advocates of the measure
- GOP leaders including Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio have been publicly fiercely critical of the Venezuelan government for months
- Florida is home to one of the largest concentrations of Venezuelan immigrants
The Biden administration this week extended protections to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, including many in Florida escaping political unrest brought upon by the Maduro regime. Florida leaders across both parties have been outwardly critical of the Venezuelan government and requested the White House to provide extended protection.
The Department of Homeland Security stated that immigration protections for about 340,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the United States before March 8, 2021, will be extended until March 20, 2024. The safeguards were set to expire in September, and the federal government had until Monday to act to extend them.
Sen. Annette Taddeo, who was one of 44 state lawmakers to sign off on a letter to Biden to prolong the sanctuary status for displaced individuals, referred to the measure as a “candle of hope” for those fleeing a country that is “down a path of decay”
“A candle of hope remains lit in the home of Venezuelans across our nation that fled a nation that has been down a path of decay,” said Taddeo. “As I stated last week in a letter to President Biden that was co-signed by 44 members of the Florida legislature, we must continue to provide the much-needed support and safety to displaced Venezuelans seeking a better life.”
I applaud the decision to extend TPS for Venezuelans fleeing Maduro’s murderous regime. While this is an important step, I will continue to fight to give Venezuelan refugees the chance to build a permanent home in the greatest country in the world and pursue the American Dream.
— Val Demings (@valdemings) July 11, 2022
Both Democrat gubernatorial candidates — Rep. Charlie Crist and Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried — sought protection extensions.
“We applaud the Administration’s decision to extend TPS for Venezuelans, but we must do more. Venezuelans fleeing the Maduro regime should be able to live without fear of deportation,” said Rep. Charlie Crist. “I will do everything I can to fight for Venezuelans in Florida.”
In March, 15 members of Florida’s congressional delegation from both parties requested Biden to prolong Venezuelans’ temporary protected status due to “political uncertainty produced by Maduro’s totalitarian dictatorship.”
Meanwhile, GOP legislators have held contempt for the Maduro administration for months. When Biden held talks with the Venezuelan president to potentially import oil from the nation, Florida federal lawmakers including Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Rick Scott issued a joint statement following the announcement, decrying the decision and claiming that Washington is conceding soft power.
“The people of the United States will continue to support them [Venezuelans} in their struggle until they regain their freedoms and get rid of the criminal dictatorship of Maduro,” said Diaz-Balart on Twitter.
Upon initial talks with the Maduro government, Gov. Ron DeSantis called for an energy-independent America that must not rely on dictatorships. Rubio corroborated these claims, going so far as to say that Venezuela can not adequately provide the oil America seeks.
Past surveys show that of Venezuelans that have immigrated to the United States, half reside in Florida, comprising one of the largest demographics of South Americans within the state.