Witness Radio: A Podcast About Immigration


Title 42 ReCast: It's Biden's Legacy Now

Season 2, Ep. 12

How hard is it to welcome immigrants with dignity in the US? To bring order, fairness, and humanity to an immigration system built on foundations of white supremacy and racial exclusion?

Very hard. Especially when immigration is a voting issue for only one party. 

The use of Title 42 is the perfect example. An obscure public health order, it was brought out of obscurity two years ago this month by Trump & Co, ostensibly to stop Covid-19 at the US Southern border but really to stop people, most egregiously those seeking protection. 

Now the reason for the expulsion of more than 1 million people fleeing climate devastation, endemic violence, political repression, and crippling poverty, Title 42 was Trump’s crime against humanity.

Until it became Biden’s. 

Despite the two-year outcry from progressives and immigration advocates, the Biden administration has yet to rescind the policy that is responsible for expelling more Haitian asylum seekers in one year than during the previous three presidencies combined. But Title 42 was never meant to be permanent, and with the virus now under control, it’s time for the policy that has cost so much money and so much suffering to go!

In this one-year anniversary podcast, Witness Radio Host Sarah Towle recasts Ep 1, Title 42: The Invisible Wall, with the 2021 winner of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, Guerline Jozef, and RFKHR President, Kerry Kennedy, to expose the anti-Blackness baked into US immigration system, soup to nuts, but epitomized by an oddball public health provision that was misappropriated by one administration to end the right of asylum in the US; and tolerated by the next administration for no other reason than political optics.

Join us as we unpack the evils lurking behind Title 42 -- for the second time --to explain why everyone should demand President Biden and DHS Secretary Mayorkas to rescind it...Now!

For more information:

The Invisible Wall: Title 42 and its Impact on Haitian Migrants

Haitian Bridge Alliance, UndocuBlack Network, Quixote Center

Black Immigrants Matter

Jack Herrera with Guerline Jozef, The Nation

The Time for a Paradigmatic Shift in How Americans View Immigrants and Immigration is Now

Sarah Towle, Southern Border Communities Coalition

Seven Myths We Must Unlearn To Reclaim Our Humanity

Sarah Towle, Medium, The Daily Kos


More Episodes


How Walls, Deterrence & Title 42 Embolden Organized Crime

Season 2, Ep. 14
On Monday, May 23, 2022, as the world awaited the long-fought for lifting of Title 42, the United Nations dropped the bomb that there are now more than 100 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. That means 1 in every 100 people on the planet right now has been driven from their birthplace by war, conflict, crippling poverty, weather-related disasters, etc. Eighty percent of these people are in the Global South.Title 42, an obscure public health provision under the US Centers for Disease Control, was invoked by the Trump administration in March 2020 in the guise of controlling COVID-19. But what it really did was put an immediate end to the right to seek asylum from persecution at US southern ports of entry. Title 42 cut off one route to lawful migration, trapping Brown, Black, and poor people on the other side of the US line.The abuse of Title 42 has persisted under Biden.It is to blame for expelling roughly 2 million people, to date, back to the harms they fled without any due process under the law. It has turned untold numbers of the world’s most vulnerable people into sitting ducks for cartel violence and organized crime. Under constant threat in Mexican border towns, waiting their turn to request protection for now years on end, many legitimate asylum seekers have been pushed to try their luck in the unpredictable Rio Grande, or by scaling the now 30-ft border wall, or by hiking through the Sonoran desert – one of the hottest places on earth.Many won’t make it.In Episode 14 of Witness Radio, I speak to one person who did survive the desert trek – but only just. Her name is Dora Rodriguez, and her tragic tale, which sparked a movement in the 1980s, stands as a profound example of the failure of the now decades-long US borderlands strategy of deterring migration by taking measures most cruel has created a market for organized crime. The political abuse of Title 42 is just the latest manifestation of that strategy, which has cost the lives of so many already. Because it was not rescinded on May 23rd, as it should have been, others will be forced to follow in Dora’s footsteps this summer. And many more will die. When will the US government be held accountable for these crimes?Additional Information:UN: More than 100 million people forcibly displaced in the worldAs Biden Prepares to Take Office, a New Rush at the Border“THERE IS NO MERCY”Cited Organizations:SalvavisionCasa de la EsperanzaTucson SamaritansNo More DeathsHumane BordersGreen Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans

Who Gets Welcomed? Who Gets to Move?

Season 2, Ep. 13
We begin the second season of Witness Radio with a mind-blowing treat. Witness Radio Executive Producer Camilo Perez-Bustillo and I join Nandita Sharma and Reece Jones to explore the question:From the war in Ukraine to the U.S.-Mexico border and beyond: Who gets welcome? Who gets to move?We conclude with ideas about how to create a more inclusive world, one better able to confront such challenges as climate change, global pandemics, capitalist greed run amok, and the hardened, racialized borders throughout the world that have given rise to violent exclusionary tactics.Our conversation first aired as a webinar hosted by Witness at the Border on March 31, 2022. So, some of the numbers cited have since changed. But we felt the discussion was too important not to republish in audio format. We hope you agree.Meet the speakers:Activist scholar Dr. Nandita Sharma is a professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her research addresses human migration, migrant labor, nation-state power, ideologies of racism, sexism, and nationalism, processes of identification and self-understanding, and social movements for justice. Nandita is the author ofHome Economics: Nationalism and the Making of ‘Migrant Workers’ in CanadaandHome Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Natives and Migrants.Dr. Reece Jones is a professor of geography and environment at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a 2021 GuggenheimFellowand the author of White Borders,Violent Borders,andBorder Walls. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journalGeopoliticsand co-editor of theRoutledge Geopolitics Book Series. His next book,Nobody is Protected: How the Border Patrol Became the Most Dangerous Police Force in the United States,is available for preorder from Counterpoint Press.Camilo Perez Bustillo is the current chair professor of human rights at National Taiwan University's College of Law. He is also a fellow at both the Institute for the Geography of Peace, Ciudad Juarez in Mexico and El Paso, Texas, and Norway's University of Bergen Global Research Program on Inequality; co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas; co-founder of the International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement; and lead author of Human Rights, Hegemony and Utopia in Latin America.Sarah Towle is a London-based author, educator, and human rights defender, sharing her journey from outrage to activism one Witness Radio episode and story at a time in her forthcoming book, The First Solution: Tales of Humanity from the Borderlands.

A Tale of Two Presidencies: Proof that #ImmigrationISaBlackIssue

Season 2, Ep. 11
The past two years have brought the world changes never imagined: a global pandemic; the lockdowns and the losses; the border closures and the politics of avoiding illness, even death.But throughout it all, there is one thing that hasn’t skipped a beat: the US Deportation Machine.This episode's featured guest is Thomas Cartwright, a member of the leadership team of Witness at the Border. Tom dedicated his time during the past 24 months of the global pandemic to collecting, compiling, and communicating data that the US government would prefer you did not know.When Trump strong-armed the US Centers for Disease Control into hacking Title 42 of the US public health code to close the southern border to migration, thereby ending Witness's long-term vigil to end Trump & Co's Migrant "Protection" Protocols, aka Remain in Mexico policy, Tom's witness did not stop.Rather, he took it digital. Sadly and inexplicably, he discovered that little changed under Biden.On this US Black History Month 2022 installment of Witness Radio, Tom gives us a Tale of Two Presidencies in numbers that reveal the scope of the expulsions of Haitians under Biden as well as the scale of the deportation flights to Africa under his predecessor, proving that, indeed, immigration is a Black issue.Additional reading:ICE Air Monthly Flight-Report, Thomas Cartwright, Witness at the BorderHow Can You Throw Us Back? Asylum Seekers Abused in the US and Deported to Harm in Cameroon, Human Rights WatchAmazon Co-owns Deportation Airline Implicated in Alleged Torture of Immigrants, Sam Biddle, The InterceptBiden has deported nearly as many Haitians in his first year as the last three presidents – combined, Tom Ricker, Quixote Center