We get an update from immigrant justice advocate Guerline Jozef, who is in Mexico to look at the impact of the Biden administration’s expansion of Title 42 to turn away Venezuelan asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump-era policy allows the government’s expulsion of asylum seekers on health grounds. “It is unacceptable today for the government to try to expand Title 42, and forcing people to continue to die,” says Jozef. The Biden administration announced that it will allow 24,000 Venezuelans into the country by air, provided they have a financial sponsor from the United States. Online applications are required. The program is similar in concept to the one for Ukrainians earlier in this year. Jozef points out that immigrants from Venezuela and Haiti get treated harshly, while Ukrainians fleeing similar political instability are welcomed. He believes that the immigration system should be designed to treat everyone with compassion, dignity, and respect.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be final.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re in Mexico City looking at migrants. And I wanted to turn to the issue of Haitian migrants and also the Biden administration’s new policy on Venezuelan asylum seekers. All Venezuelans who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border will now be turned away under Title 42, a Trump-era pandemic policy that’s been used to block at least 2 million migrants from applying for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced it’s going to allow 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the country by air if they have a financial sponsor in the United States — of course, which many don’t. Online applications are required. The program is similar one that was set up for Ukrainians.
This is Alejandro Mayorkas from Homeland Security Secretary speaking last week in D.C.
DHS SECRETARY ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS:To reduce irregular arrivals at our southwest border and to create a safer, more humane and orderly process for people fleeing Venezuela’s humanitarian and economic crises. Those who try to cross the United States southern border illegally will be returned. Follow the lawful procedure we announced yesterday to be able to travel safely to the United States.
AMY GOODMAN:Tony Blinken, Secretary-of-State, said last week that the Biden administration doesn’t plan to reduce sanctions on Venezuela. Some estimates suggest that the sanctions have caused the death of thousands in Venezuela. A few years ago, it was Mike Pompeo, under Trump, who offered a pathway to lift the sanctions, predicated on regime change in Venezuela and replacing the president with Juan Guaidó.
How much of this can you attribute to the U.S. policy towards Venezuela? Then, what’s the deal with the massive deportation and expulsion of Venezuelans. Talk also about Haitians being returned.
GUERLINE JOZEF:Amy, thank you so much.
I am not an expert on Venezuelan politics. However, I can tell that the announcement of 24,000 Venezuelans by Secretary Mayorkas, the Biden administration, is fragmentary. We are still seeing hundreds of thousands fleeing Venezuela. We are witnessing at least 1,000 Venezuelans being expelled and deported daily from the United States to Mexico. And we are seeing that the piecemeal that is being offered to the Venezuelan population is also being used as a deterrent factor for people who have already been on the road to seek for protection, people who are still traversing the Darién, people who are here in Mexico, who do not have the ability or the privilege to fly from Venezuela to the United States. When we think about how we are welcoming people, compassion is key. It is not enough to just use a carrot and stick to deter people. We must also provide wholesome protection to them.
So, I’m here in Mexico City to see how it is affecting, impacting, and affecting the migrant populations, people in mobility, people living in displacement, and people seeking asylum or protection. All migrants, regardless of origin, from Venezuela, Ukraine or Haiti, must be welcomed with dignity. We are not happy with what is happening to the Venezuelan Community. We are open to the idea of providing protection for the 24,000 but what about the hundreds of others already at the U.S. – Mexico border? What will happen with the Haitians stuck at the U.S. -Mexico frontier because of Title 42? It is unacceptable that the government tries to expand Title 42 while forcing people to die.
Amy, as I’m speaking to you right now, we are in the middle of doing three funerals in Tijuana. This week, three Haitians died in Tijuana. One was a 2-year old girl, one was killed and another died from lack of medical care. We are witnessing that Title 42 continues to kill lives. The U.S. government under President Biden should not continue to use Title 42 to deter and certainly be able to see death along the U.S.–Mexico border.
We must keep pushing. As we move forward, we must hold everyone responsible. We must understand that the Venezuelans need support and protection. The Haitians also need support and protection, just as we welcome and support the Ukrainians. The reality is —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Guerline — Guerline, if I can ask you —
GUERLINE JOZEF: — we cannot return —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: If I can ask you — we just have a few more minutes. I was interested in your thoughts on the Mexican government’s role in cooperating in the sending of people back to Mexico by the Biden administration. And also, what do you say to these local leaders around the United States, even in places like New York City, that are now being inundated with the asylum seekers that are being shipped by bus from Texas and Florida to Northern cities and Northern states, the sheer numbers of people they’re suddenly having to deal with?
GUERLINE JOZEF: I don’t think we are being inundated by asylum seekers. I believe that we didn’t prepare for people in mobility, or those in need of protection, either intentionally or unintentionally. We did the same for the Ukrainians and there was no one complaining about Ukrainians arriving in New York. They were welcomed, placed in a sponsorship program, and fully supported. So I don’t believe we are being inundated. I believe that we need better preparation to receive people. We don’t want to create the false narrative that cities, such New York and Chicago, are in crisis to prevent states like Massachusetts or New York from welcoming people.
We applaud the states and cities that are welcoming people. However, we know that the federal government can help to provide the support necessary to welcome them, just like we did for the Ukrainians. We have yet to see any program of welcome for Haitians. We have yet not seen any meaningful changes in the immigration system that would be able address these issues. We are witnessing a response to false narratives. We are witnessing a system being constructed to discourage people. We are witnessing a narrative that is created against immigrants. That’s what we are seeing right now.
We demand that all people involved in this misleading information are held accountable. And we really are here — we are in communications with many organizations in New York, in Chicago, in D.C., who are willing and able to support people arriving.
AMY GOODMAN: Guerline Jozef, we want to —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And —
AMY GOODMAN: Juan, go ahead.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oh, no. And Mexico’s role? I asked you about Mexico’s role, as well.
GUERLINE JOZEF: Yes, Juan. We do know that the U.S. – Mexico summit took place last week in San Diego. We weren’t privy to the decisions or the communications. However, we now see that Mexico is welcoming people. So, we just are here and pleading and asking the Mexican government to do the right thing by the migrants and people in — displaced people in immobility.
AMY GOODMAN:Guerline Jozef, thank you for being here. You are co-founder and executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance.