This week, two members of the South Florida delegation have brought out a proposal offering Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Nicaraguan nationals already in the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., introduced the bill on Tuesday with U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., as the main cosponsor.
On Wednesday, Diaz-Balart weighed in on why he is championing the bill.
“I am proud, along with my friend and colleague Rep. Donna Shalala, to introduce the Nicaragua TPS Act of 2019 to allow Nicaraguans to remain in the United States until it is safe for them to return to Nicaragua,” Diaz-Balart said.
Diaz-Balart pointed to the economic hardships and growing chaos plaguing that Central American nation.
“The Nicaraguan people have suffered for years under the oppressive Ortega regime, which has corrupted Nicaragua’s governmental institutions, illegitimately extended Ortega’s brutal grip on power, and installed Ortega’s wife as vice president,” Diaz-Balart said. “Since the protest began in April 2018, the regime’s thugs have violently oppressed the pro-democracy opposition, censored and destroyed independent media, and committed egregious human rights abuses that have left hundreds dead and thousands injured. Human rights groups have condemned Ortega’s power grab and human rights abuses which include extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, censorship, forced disappearances, rape, and the holding of political prisoners. Shamefully, the Ortega regime enforces a depraved policy of ‘exile, jail, or death’ to silence the opposition.
“Ortega and his thugs must go,” Diaz-Balart said in conclusion. “The Nicaraguan people are demanding free, fair, multiparty elections and a government free of crime and corruption that respects basic human rights and liberties. Until that happens, I strongly support the Trump administration’s demonstrations of strong solidarity with the Nicaraguan people through robust sanctions against those who corrupt Nicaragua’s democratic institutions or perpetrate human rights abuses. In addition, we also must demonstrate our solidarity with the Nicaraguan people by extending protection to those Nicaraguans who have found a safe haven in the United States. The Nicaraguan people will remember that the United States stood with them in their time of greatest need.”
“Nicaraguans are facing a crisis from Ortega’s systemic human rights violations and assault on democratic institutions that have sparked protests and left hundreds dead this past year,” said Shalala. “Extending TPS for Nicaraguans is the right thing to do, especially as the Ortega regime escalates its human rights abuses. I’m proud to work with Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart on this important bipartisan legislation, and I remain committed in my effort to give TPS status to Venezuelans and extend status to those from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, and other groups currently designated for TPS.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.