Driven from home by US sanctions, Venezuelans hope to find work.
Small nonprofits, faith groups, provide the sole shelter for those who have made it to New Mexico
A bank employee aged 20 left her in the country in Venezuela in September, along with her husband and uncle and her uncle, all looking for employment to help provide for their family members.
She gave up the idea of pursuing a law degree because her job wasn’t paying enough to cover eating and, even though law school tuition is free, however, she was unable to be able to afford the transportation needed to get to classes , or to pay for the necessary books.
“It was really difficult for me since I was the eldest of my family members,” she told an interpreter in December. 18. “Where we were staying with my mother the house was damaged, and I would like to assist my mother.”
The couple’s uncle and wife operated a fast-food breakfast restaurant and also sold baked products in Caracas the capital of the city, but it was not enough money to sustain themselves.
“You can be working 24 hours all day long, but it’s not enough,” said the man.
The U.S. Treasury Department and the State Department have maintained economic sanctions against Venezuela for the past 15 years. This has ruined the country’s economy, pushed many millions of Venezuelans to poverty, and impeded access to medications that has been accused of causing 100,000 deaths.
Opportunities for business for people in the United States are limited due to a policy from the pandemic era that permits the United States to deny asylum and deport detained people by immigration authorities.
The policy was scheduled to expire on Wednesday, but it appears that the U.S. Supreme Court wants an appeal, while keeping the system in place that has been currently used by 2.5 million people as of 2020. This puts people in constant danger of being detained and causing stress on the mutual aid services that help.
People living in Venezuela are living in part because the families that have migrated have money coming to South America, Europe, and the U.S., said Sage Bird who is one of the American citizens who was raised in Venezuela and then left with her two children due to the rising cost of living.
“There’s an economic war where they’re using dollars from the U.S. dollar in Venezuela currently,” said Bird, who is now living with his family in Santa Fe. “But when you’re working there it’s not enough.”
A leader of the faith community in the Albuquerque region said that last week they accepted 80 Venezuelan refugees in need of food, shelter to sleep and to work. One person came to her with broken fingers, and another was there just days before having a baby. In interviews, others described swelling and bleeding feet due to the miles they walked.
Locals from Albuquerque provided food and hygiene products, as well as warm clothes, she added.
“Thank God for lots of support from the local community,” She said. “Currently the most we require is financial aid for us to provide them with a house where they can live.”
If the new influx of immigrants from Venezuela aren’t allowed to enter America United States without a visa or green card they may be allowed to stay in the United States when they have claims in accordance with U.S. asylum law or other conventions, like the one against torture, according to Carol Suzuki, a professor of law at the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Anyone seeking asylum must quit their home country or because they’re being targeted by their country’s government, or the government isn’t able or unwilling to stop the persecution, Suzuki said.
This can happen due to race or nationality, religion, or membership in a certain social group or political view, Suzuki said. At the moment, economic hardship and the resulting sanctions do not constitute a reason for courts to grant refugee status, she explained.
Further Venezuelans attempt to get into the country through south-facing borders. While Suzuki does not know the exact nature of their claims, she noted that they are a majority of them seeking asylum.
In October. On the 12th of October, The U.S. announced a humanitarian program for Venezuelans like the one to Ukrainian refugees.
But it’s not helping those who are coming to America. United States without a sponsor and also creates a pathway for wealthy and middle-class people from Venezuela which leaves working-class those in limbo Bird stated.
Catholic Charities New Mexico is the only group in the United States that assists Venezuelan refugee refugees, Bird said.
The issue is that refugees may at any point be seized by ICE and placed in the detention center, and held there until removed, she stated.
Many Venezuelans are already deported to Venezuela to the United States under Title 42 the policy of the Trump administration, which was scheduled to be ended several months ago. The policy permits border patrol officers to deny refugees including asylum seekers on the border as part of the authority of the CDC’s public health officials.
The trial was scheduled to conclude on Wednesday but a decision by the Supreme Court kept it in place.
This morning, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts stayed a lower court’s decision, which means that the law, which bans asylum seekers and migrants from their home countries, is in effect.
In the context of Title 42, migrants are being returned to violent areas.
“This was a very scary incident with dangerous results,” said Sophia Genovese an immigration lawyer with a high rank working for the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center.
If they do manage to get through they are constantly under threat of detention and arrest by ICE.
“These aren’t suitable locations in which asylum seekers should be detained in particular when they’re part of communities that are able to help their release,” she said.
In the context of Title 42, people aren’t allowed to submit an asylum application that Genovese declared to be a violation in the United States’ obligations under international law. If Congress changes the policy, it continues as a security risk that she said.
“There’s lots of anxiety that comes from the courts having turned into instruments of the political system,” Genovese said.
When Title 42 was struck down, asylum seekers from Mexico believed they would be able to be granted refugee status in America. United States, but they were shocked by an injunction which stayed the law in place, she explained.
New Mexico’s Immigrant Law Center offers asylum seminars throughout the state to assist those who have a destination here, she explained. The same organizations throughout the nation are prepared and ready to help asylum seekers during their legal process.
There are a few non-profit organizations that provide legal aid, Suzuki said, and the Border Justice Initiative at UNM’s Law School is slowly developing immigration lawyers.
“We need more experienced lawyers to advocate and provide representation to the individuals who are likely to be coming to Albuquerque for help,” she said.
Bird has been in contact with agencies and nonprofits in Albuquerque to discuss collaboration and also said that they have received Venezuelan refugees knocking at their doors.
There could be other discussions and plans on the best way to assist these refugees in light of the whiplash effects from Title 42, Suzuki said.
A lot of the organizations that help the refugees are non-profit organizations which rely on volunteers. Suzuki is concerned about the assistance available now that more people arrive in the area.
“What is the structure of the municipalities at the state or city or state level?” she asked. “Why are they required to be a faith group or volunteer?”
Bird suggested that the local authorities within Albuquerque along with Santa Fe find a large space , like a gym, where refugees can remain while they slowly move out to the secondary locations for resettlement.
“We should be welcoming them if they want to stay here, or assist them by providing the necessary provisions to live on,” she said.