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Venezuelan Poll Shows Thanks For Biden On TPS — And Anger For Rubio, Scott

Venezuelans holding flag
Wayne K. Roustan
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Venezuelans in Sunrise celebrate receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from President Biden in March.

An ICR poll shows Florida Venezuelans want a path to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status holders.

A new poll shows most Venezuelans in Florida support giving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients like themselves a pathway to U.S. citizenship — and that may present a challenge to Florida Republicans.

TPS gives immigrants in the U.S. temporary protection from deportation and permission to work here if their home countries are deemed too dangerous to return to. In the Integrated Communication & Research (ICR) survey released Tuesday, most Florida Venezuelans disapprove of President Biden's job performance — but a majority say his granting of TPS to Venezuelans in the U.S. earlier this year, and his support of a pathway to citizenship for them, raised their opinion of him.

Meanwhile, only a third said they’d still hold a favorable view of Florida's Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott if they don’t back that pathway.

Half a million Venezuelans live in Florida; about a fifth are registered voters. At a Tuesday virtual press briefing, hosted by the Coral Gables nonprofit Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund (IMPAC), which sponsored the ICR poll, Venezuelan expat William Diaz stressed his community "are swing voters."

“In the past, Venezuelans supported Senators Rubio and Scott," said Diaz, who heads the nonprofit Casa de Venezuela in Orlando.

"But if they will not give us a hand, I’ll be glad to campaign against Rubio and Scott.”

Rubio and Scott say Biden must first strengthen U.S. border security before they’ll consider supporting immigration reform legislation now in Congress, like the SECURE Act, that provides a pathway to more permanent immigration status and citizenship for TPS holders.

IMPAC board member Leonard Boord, and other speakers at the Tuesday poll release, emphasized the economic contribution of TPS holders.

“If we fail to pass these immigration solutions now," said Boord, "we are at risk of losing over 400,000 TPS recipients and billions of dollars in economic and tax revenue contributions.”

More than 178,000 Venezuelans in the U.S. have applied for TPS, granted to them because of the severe humanitarian crisis back home in Venezuela, the worst in modern South American history.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.
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