Thousands of immigrants from Venezuela who fled to South Florida and elsewhere in the United States prior to 2013 could gain permanent legal residency under new legislation being proposed by a number of members of Congress from Florida. Numerous Venezuelans are unable to go back to their home country due to their fear of being persecuted by the current dictatorial government, according to the bill’s sponsors. The large amount of Venezuelans who decided to settle in South Florida, many in Doral and Weston, would find much relief in the bipartisan bill. “In the last few months alone we have seen countless examples of the [Venezuelan] regime’s thuggish tactics, unethical behavior, and lethal force,” says Representative Carlos Curbelo of Kendall. “They’ve also arrested over 3,000 opposition protesters in a riot that left dozens dead.”
Also sponsoring the new bill are Democratic representatives Alan Grayson of Orlando and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, and Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami. Grayson says that Venezuelans cannot be allowed to be forced to return to a country where opposing the government can result in arrest, torture, and execution. “Granting them permanent residence status is the best, most logical way to ensure their safety,” he explained.
The fact that members of both the major political parties are sponsoring the bill increases its chances of success. Eligible Venezuelans will have four years until 2019 to register to adjust their immigration status if the bill successfully passes the House of Representatives.