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Venezuelans Seeking Asylum Are Now Turned Away at U.S. Border as Biden Expands Trump-Era Title 42

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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. The Trump-era policy lets the government expel asylum seekers on public health grounds. “It is unacceptable today for the government to try to expand Title 42, and forcing people to continue to die,” says Jozef. Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced it will allow 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the country by air if they have a financial sponsor in the United States. Applicants must first apply online. The program is similar to one set up for Ukrainians earlier this year. Jozef notes immigrants from Venezuela and Haiti are treated harshly, while Ukrainians fleeing similar political instability back home are welcomed, and that the immigration system should be structured to treat everyone with compassion and dignity.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

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. Applicants must first apply online. The program is similar to one set up for Ukrainians.

This is Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaking last week in D.C.

DHS SECRETARY ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS: To reduce the number of people arriving at our southwest border irregularly and create a more orderly and safe and humane process for people fleeing the humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela. Those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned. Those who follow the lawful process we announced yesterday will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said last week the Biden administration has no plans to reduce sanctions on Venezuela. Some studies estimate the sanctions have killed tens of thousands of people 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 situation can you attribute to U.S. policy against Venezuela? And then, what is happening with this massive deportation of Venezuelans? And also talk about Haitians being turned back.

GUERLINE JOZEF: Thank you so much, Amy.

Again, I am not an expert in Venezuelan politics, but what I can tell you is that the 24,000 Venezuelans who have been announced by Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden administration is a piecemeal, because what we are seeing, we are seeing hundreds of thousands of people still fleeing Venezuela. We are seeing a expulsion, deportation of at least 1,000 Venezuelans a day from the United States back 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. I think when we are looking into how we are welcoming people, we must center compassion, not just using a carrot and a stick just to deter people, but really provide wholesome protection for folks.

So, I am here in Mexico City looking into how it is affecting, impacting the migrant population, people in mobility, people in displacement, people who are searching for asylum and protection. Whether they are from Venezuela, whether they are from Ukraine or from Haiti, they must all welcome with dignity. And what we are seeing happening to the Venezuelan community is unacceptable. Although we welcome the idea of providing, you know, the protection for the 24,000, but what will happen with the hundreds of others who are already at the U.S.-Mexico border? What will happen to the Haitians who are still stuck at the U.S.-Mexico border because of Title 42? It is unacceptable today for the government to try to expand Title 42 and forcing people to continue to die.

Amy, as I’m speaking to you right now, we are in the middle of doing three funerals in Tijuana. Three Haitians have died in Tijuana this past week alone, including a 2-year-old girl, a man who was killed, and another one who died due to lack of medical care. So, what we are seeing is that the use of Title 42 continues to destroy lives. And there is no reason that the U.S. government, under President Biden, should continue to use Title 42 as a way to deter, and definitely being able to see death at the U.S.-Mexico border.

So we must continue to push. We must continue to hold everyone accountable as we move forward, to understand that support, protection must be provided for the Venezuelans, support and protection must be provided for the Haitians, the same way we are welcoming and continue to 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 wanted to ask you about the role of the Mexican government in cooperating with the Biden administration in terms of people being sent back to Mexico. 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 did not prepare, intentionally or unintentionally, to actually receive people in mobility, people in need of protection. As a country, the same way we did for the Ukrainians, we did not have anyone on the news complaining about Ukrainians coming to New York or to other cities. They were received and welcomed and placed into a sponsorship program and supported full, full on. So I don’t believe we are being inundated. I believe that we need to be better prepared to receive people, and not allow the false narrative that we are in the middle of a crisis in order to deter cities, such as Chicago or New York, or states, like Massachusetts, to receive people.

And we applaud the states and the cities who are receiving people, but we know that the federal government can provide the support needed to welcome those people, just as we have done for the Ukrainians. And we still have yet to see any welcoming program for the Haitians. We still have yet to see any meaningful change within the immigration system to be able to address those issues. We are seeing a response to false narrative. We are seeing a system that is being built to deter people. We are seeing a narrative that is being creating against immigrants. That’s what we are seeing right now.

And we are calling on accountability for all people who are a part of this misleading information. 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 —


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. The thing is, we understand that the U.S.-Mexico summit happened last week in San Diego. We were not privy of the decisions or how the communications went. But as a result, we see Mexico is receiving folks. 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, we want to thank you for being with us, co-founder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, today joining us from Mexico City in Mexico.

Next up, we speak with Congressmember Cori Bush about her new memoir, The Forerunner: A Story of Pain and Perseverance in America. Stay with us.

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