A letter, spearheaded by Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), argued these penalties are “push-factors” fueling a crisis at the southern border ahead of the imminent expiration of the Title 42 policy credited with blocking millions of crossings.
“Experts widely agree that broad-based U.S. sanctions — expanded to an unprecedented level by former President Donald Trump — are a critical contributing factor in the current increase in migration,” the group said.
“In light of their grave humanitarian toll on the peoples of those countries, and the significant logistical challenges that the resulting increase in migration is causing for federal, state, and local authorities, we urge you to act swiftly to lift the failed and indiscriminate economic sanctions that were imposed by the prior administration,” they added.
The Trump administration issued sanctions against Venezuela to punish the “illegitimate” regime led by President Nicolás Maduro, citing an “abuse” of natural resources, and against Cuba to reverse what former President Donald Trump called “the Obama-Biden sellout to the Castro regime.” In the final days of Trump’s administration, the federal government re-designated Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
The letter from House Democrats, which bore the signatures of more than a dozen lawmakers, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), argued the Trump-era sanctions have blasted the economies of Cuba and Venezuela, making such things as food and medicine scarcer.
They recognize that Biden has already lifted some penalties on both countries, but lament how “most of the Trump administration-imposed sanctions remain and continue to exacerbate our challenges at the border.”
Officials from the federal level down to the local level are bracing for a migrant surge as the pandemic-era Title 42, which allows authorities to quickly turn away migrants at the border on public health grounds, is set to expire by the end of Thursday.
Border agents are already making up to 10,000 apprehensions daily this week, Customs and Border Protection sources told Fox News. The rising numbers has given Republicans more reason to accuse the Biden administration of mismanaging the border situation.
As noted by The Washington Post, the House Democrats’ push to further ease up sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba sets up a clash with Senate Foreign Affairs Chairman Robert Melendez (D-NJ), a major critic of both the governments leading both countries.
Menendez released a joint statement with other Senate Democrats on Thursday that made no mention of Cuba or Venezuela, instead making other suggestions such as imploring Biden to “expand legal pathways for migrants from Central America and help local economies thrive, as well as redesignate Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua for TPS [Temporary Protected Status], and issue TPS designation for Guatemala.”