Venezuelans lash out at Rubio, Scott over permanent US citizenship
The fight for a path to permanent citizenship for thousands of Venezuelans in the United States is an “uphill battle” that needs the support of Florida’s political leaders, advocates say.
“Now is the time for them to fulfill their campaign promises,” said William Díaz, a community leader in Central Florida.
Díaz, founder of the Casa de Venezuela network in the U.S., said Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott “promised to work for our Venezuelan brothers and sisters.”
Casa de Venezuela helps Venezuelans in areas such as language, immigration, health, education, cultural adaptation and work.
The results of a poll released Tuesday by the Venezuelan American Alliance show that Venezuelans showed that they expect more from the two Republican senators who represent Florida, but above all “that they fulfill what they have promised us,” Díaz said.
The poll, conducted for IMPAC Fund by Integrated Communications and Research of Miami, found that 49% of Venezuelans in Florida would no longer support Rubio or Scott if they voted against permanent status, while 32% said they would continue to support them.
Both Rubio and Scott have spoken out against the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and have said that they support TPS for those who have fled their country.
TPS provides immigrants in the U.S. temporary protection against deportation and permission to work in the United States if their home countries are deemed too dangerous to return to.
It is estimated that more than 320,000 Venezuelans qualify for TPS, with most living in Florida.
But Samuel Vilchez Santiago, a young Venezuelan leader, said this “is not permanent. This is like a Band-Aid that does not solve anything. We need a permanent solution.”
Vilchez Santiago said the poll shows “Venezuelan-American voters in Florida are willing to turn their backs on Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott should they vote against a path to citizenship for our community.”
“This is not a political issue for us; it is humanitarian. Our families and entrepreneurs across the country depend on a permanent solution to continue growing and contributing to the American economy. It is time for the senators to decide whether they are for or against Venezuelan families.”
In an interview with El Sentinel Orlando, Díaz said Rubio expressed he supported TPS for Venezuelans, but that the government should find a way out of Maduro’s rule and that Venezuelans then return to help rebuild Venezuela.
The activist criticized the senator’s statements and
said, “So, I ask him, if Castro and Díaz Canel are overthrown in Cuba tomorrow, should the Cubans go back to the island? Because if
Venezuela has to be rebuilt, Cuba has to be rebuilt, and
perhaps he would be a good governor of a province there
on the island.”
Rubio, Scott react
Rubio, who was the co-author of the bill that granted TPS to eligible Venezuelans, acknowledged that Venezuela continues to be a nation in crisis.
“I have long advocated providing much-needed relief to help eligible Venezuelan citizens residing in the U.S. with a work permit and a temporary fix, which is exactly what the Trump Administration did earlier this year,” he said. “I am pleased that the Biden Administration shares that commitment, and I support the granting of TPS status to eligible Venezuelan citizens currently in the United States.”
Rubio further stated that “while Venezuelans who fled Maduro’s narco-terrorist regime cannot return home safely today, I know they are waiting for the day when they can return to their beloved homeland. That is why it is essential that we continue working with our democratic allies to ensure a Venezuela free of tyranny and ensure that this temporary status in the United States does not become permanent.”
Scott’s Hispanic Press Secretary, Rosa Pérez, said, “Florida is an immigration state and Senator Rick Scott has been clear that he supports legal immigration and a permanent solution for TPS and for DACA. Any immigration reform must first address the need to secure the border.”
On supporting Venezuelans, she said, “Senator Scott has continuously stood with the people of Venezuela fighting for freedom and democracy during his time as governor of Florida and now as senator. He has fought for the U.S. and the international community to recognize Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaidó and focus on ending Maduro’s regime, protecting human rights and helping the Venezuelan people achieve freedom and democracy.”