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Congresswoman Escobar Co-Leads Letter Urging President Biden to Reverse Trump-Imposed Sanctions for Cuba and Venezuela

Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) co-led a letter with Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ-7) to President Joe Biden urging him to reverse the Trump era sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela which serve as push-factors for the humanitarian crisis seen at our southern border. 

The letter, signed by 19 additional Representatives, comes as the expiration of Title 42 approaches.  

“As members from border states, states that have received increasing number of migrants, and others from across the country, we strongly agree with the views expressed during the Summit of the Americas in June 2022 that we ‘need to identify the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement’ and commit to ‘supporting countries across the Western Hemisphere to create the conditions to improve quality of life, especially in marginalized communities,’” wrote the lawmakers. “While the number of migrants coming to the Southern border has dropped somewhat from its peak, experts both inside and outside of the Department of Homeland Security expect arrivals to increase sharply with the expiration of Title 42 on May 11.”

“We also urge you to use your executive authority, however, to continue to focus on the root causes of this dire humanitarian crisis and reverse callous and counterproductive policies that have both served as push- factors and contributed to the current increase in migrant arrivals,” they continued. “Your administration’s efforts to address the root causes of migration from Mexico and northern Central America have coincided with a 43 percent reduction in the number of encounters of migrants from the northern Central America. While this progress has been offset by the unprecedented number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Cuba and Venezuela, your expansion of legal pathways has been successful in producing a temporary 72 percent decrease among arrivals from these countries.”

The lawmakers added, “The suffering that has been endured by these migrants is often unimaginable: leaving behind friends, families, and homes; traversing deserts, jungles, and treacherous regions like the Darién Gap; risking life and limb only to be met, in some cases, with closed doors and even violence upon arriving at the border. The decision to risk such hardship is not one that is taken lightly — it is made out of necessity.”

“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,” they continued. “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, and engage in a broader review of preexisting sanctions policies that your administration inherited, which exacerbate hardship for innocent civilians and serve as additional push-factors for migration.” 

“We are heartened by recent steps that your administration has taken in this direction, but most of the Trump administration-imposed sanctions remain and continue to exacerbate our challenges at the border. We hope that dialogue with regional partners like your meeting with Colombian president Gustavo Petro will communicate a willingness to consider a new approach. You have a historic opportunity to help mitigate economic push-factors driving migration and affecting our border and many of our cities, while reorienting U.S. policy in the hemisphere towards a more holistic approach that eschews destructive sanctions policies to focus on peace, stability, and prosperity for all inhabitants of the Americas. We hope you will continue down this path,” the lawmakers concluded.

The letter was also co-signed by U.S. Representatives Greg Casar (TX-35), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), and J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia (IL-4), Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Juan Vargas (CA-52), David Trone (MD-6), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Nydia Velazquez (NY-7), Delia Ramirez (IL-3), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Andre Carson (IN-7), and Cori Bush (MO-1).

Endorsing organizations include the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Center for International Policy, Demand Progress Education Fund, Just Foreign Policy, Families for Freedom, and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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