The House reportedly will be voting soon on a measure to provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to nationals of Venezuela. This status will shield tens of thousands of Venezuelans, many of whom have arrived recently on short-term visas from deportation, enable them to apply for a work permit, and allow them to travel in and out of the United States. Proponents of this move have said that no one should be removed to Venezuela because it is not safe – but in reality, hardly anyone is deported to Venezuela even without the TPS relief, even though it is one of the top countries for overstayers. Instead of expanding use of an immigration program that causes more problems than it solves, Congress should let this sleeping dog lie.
Venezuelans who are living here illegally already face very little threat of deportation. According to ICE records, in 2017 and 2018 a total of 584 citizens of Venezuela were removed from the United States. In contrast, 18 countries had more deportations than Venezuela, including Ecuador, which is a smaller country, and Peru, which is about the same size.
In those same two years, the Department of Homeland Security counted nearly 67,000 Venezuelan citizens who overstayed their visas. Venezuela is now one of the top countries for overstayers, behind only Canada, Mexico, India and Brazil.
Of these deportations, about half were initiated by officials at a legal port of entry, usually Miami International Airport. Only 10 percent were initiated by the Border Patrol and 39 percent were ICE cases in the interior (mostly by the Miami field office).
Most of the individuals deported had originally entered the United States legally. Only 40 were present without legal admission and another 29 had been asylum seekers.
Rather than risk exacerbating the situation by granting TPS benefits, Congress should let the president and his immigration agencies continue to exercise their discretion with respect to deportations to Venezuela.