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Migrant Justice Newsletter - APR 2023


Migrant Justice Newsletter and Urgent Actions – APR 2023 

Welcome to IRTF’s April 2023 newsletter on Migrant Justice and the current situation at the US-Mexico border! After you’ve looked through the articles, we hope you can take a couple of minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom.

In this newsletter, please read about

  • Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH: Update on New Deportation Proceedings and Deportations Ordered
  • Removal Flights & Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures. Update on Removal Flight Trends
  • A New Crisis Emerged: Migrant child labor in the U.S.
  • At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. Ten cases appear to violate CBP and Border Patrol policies on use of force. 
  • 24 Federal Budget: Promoting Border Enforcement and Unsafe Migration
  • TPS Update: 16 nationalities now qualify


Here is what you can do to take action this week and act in solidarity with migrants and their families.

Tell Congress to Protect Dreamers

Tell Border Patrol to stop detaining pregnant and nursing mothers!

Urge your congressperson to support the American Families United Act (AFUA)


Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH

Deportation proceedings filed nationwide increased the most in March 2023 since the beginning of this fiscal year (Oct 2022).

Ohio ranks #18 in filing deportation proceedings (out of 31 states that have immigration courts). 

Ohio ranks #11 in ordering deportations.


Cleveland EOIR - Deportations proceedings filed 

In March 2023, the number of deportation proceedings filed nationwide during Fiscal Year 2023 now stands at 520,669. Compared to February 2023, this is an increase of 104,358, by far the most in one month this fiscal year. Compared to the 85,020 new cases in February 2023 this is 19,338 more.

In Ohio, 2,041 new deportation proceedings were filed, bringing the fiscal year total up to 8,566. Nationwide, Ohio is #18 in filing deportation proceedings.     

TRAC Data March 2023

New deportation proceedings filed  (through Mar 2023)

New cases filed this month in Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio

(since OCT 2022)


(since OCT 2022

In total












El Salvador 

































Cleveland EOIR - Deportations Ordered

In Ohio the immigration court ordered 1,302 new deportations during February and March, bringing the total up to 2,455. Ohio still is #11 in deportations ordered.   

Deportations ordered (through March 2023)

New deporations ordered in FEB-MAR  from Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio

(since OCT 2022)


(since OCT 2022)

In total
















El Salvador





























Numbers compared to January 2023


Furthermore, the number of Peruvians ordered for deportation is now 2,238 nationwide, It has risen by 1,332 since December 2022.

In the Juvenile Court docket of Cleveland, 47 new minors received a deportation order during February and March 2023. This raises the total number of deportations ordered by the Cleveland Immigration Juvenile Court docket to 168

Ordered deported in FEB-MAR 2023:

26 Guatemalan minors

14 Honduran minors

  3 Salvadoran minors

  2 Nicaraguan minors

  1 Mexican minor

  1 Chilean minor


Current fiscal year - minors ordered deported from Cleveland (OCT 2022-MAR 2023)

90 Guatemalan

65 Honduran

7 Salvadoran

3 Nicaraguan

2  Mexican

1 Chilean 

MINORS ordered deported from Cleveland EOIR (juvenile docket) each month of FY 2023:

30: OCT 2022

27: NOV 2022 

37: DEC 2022 

27: JAN 2023 

47: FEB - MAR 2023 

Source: TRAC at Syracuse University (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse)


ICE Air Flights: Update on Removal Flight Trends

In March 2023, removal flights increased from 127 in February to 145, the second highest month in over 3 years––second only to the mass removal of Haitians in September 2021. Removal flights are a mix of migrants being sent back to their home countries under Title 42 (“expulsions”), Title 8 (“inadmissables”),  and deportations. In March 2023, flights to South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil) totaled 62, or 43% of all removal flights.  Five countries (Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) together comprised the destinations of 89% of all removal flights in  March 2023. Countries now accepting T42 flights are: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Peru.

The U.S. government’s COVID-19 public health emergency is set to end on May 11, 2023 — this includes the Title 42 order that has expelled over 2.5 million migrants from the US-Mexico border. If Title 42 indeed ends on May 11, the Biden Administration is rolling out plans that would continue to restrict many migrants’ access to asylum, including a “transit ban” and ultra-rapid adjudication of asylum cases under conditions of expedited removal. 

Since President Biden’s inauguration there have been 15,839 likely ICE air flights, including 2,762 removal flights.

As the end of Title 42 looms, ICE Air flights have been increasing: 145 removal flights in March, the second highest month in over 3 years. Total ICE Air flights in March 2023 numbered 767, the third highest in over 3 years. At the same time, encounters are lowest in a year.

ICE Air Flights

While the end of the anti-immigrant policy Title 42 is still up in the air, the number of observed removal flights to ten different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean continues to rise. Over the last 12 months, there have been 8,218 ICE Air flights; 1,419 of those have been removal flights (up 370 from 2021).  With an estimated average of 100 passengers per flight, this means that over the past 12 months, as many as 141,900 people could have been returned to Latin America, the Caribbean and a small number to Africa by air by the U.S.

The continuation of Title 42 has passed the debate on whether the health order is still relevant and justified. It is threatening a person’s basic human right to seek refuge in the U.S. Furthermore, it bears life-threatening consequences to many who are coming to the U.S. border and are met with xenophobia and immediate removals.

Removal Flights, Lateral Flights, Domestic Shuffles:

In March 2023, there were 127 ICE Air flights (up 18 from February),the second highest month in over 3 years, second only to the mass removal of Haitians in September 2021. During the period of May through August 2022, removal flights ranged between 139 and 142, but average encounters during that period were 213,000 per month, 57,000 higher than the JAN-FEB 2023 average of 156,000. 

Shuffle flights:

Shuffle flights increased by 23 to 389. Shuffle flights are domestic flights transporting migrants from either from one processing center along the border to another, or from one detention center to another.  Shuffle flights include the lateral flights, listed below. 

Lateral flights:

Lateral flights in March 2023 were well below the record 134 in December 2022, but showed an increase from 49 in February to 53 in March.  However, removal flights originating from El Paso increased from 0 (SEP-DEC 2022) to  22 in February and 24 in March.  Of those 24 removal flights from El Paso, 20 were to Guatemala, an increase of 18, and 4 to Honduras, an increase of 5. 

Importantly, after the tragic fire in the detention facility in Ciudad Juárez and the spike in encounters in El Paso, there were 7 lateral flights out of El Paso during the last 3 days of the month. 

In March the origin of lateral flights tilted from Tucson to El Paso, where 36 flights originated. Flights from Yuma were down 16 to 14, and Tucson originations were down 12 to 3.

The destination of lateral flights tilted from Laredo to Harlington, TX, with Harlinton receiving 35 flights and Laredo receiving 18.

Removal flights:

In March 2023, removal flights increased from 127 in February to 145, the second highest month in over 3 years–second only to the mass removal of Haitians in September 2021. During the period MAY-AUG 2022, removal flights ranged between 139 and 142, but average border encounters of migrats during that period were at the high numbers 213,00 per month. 

In March 2023, flights to South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil) totaled 62 or 43% of all removal flights.

Removal flights are a mix of migrants being sent back to their home countries under Title 42 (“expulsions”), Title 8 (“inadmissables”),  and deportations. Countries now accepting T42 flights are: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Peru.

Where are they being sent?

The countries from the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) all continue to top the number of monthly removal flights. Flights to the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala (40), Honduras (27), and El Salvador (7) comprised 51% of all removal flights, a bit higher than January at 49%, and with Colombia (24) and Ecuador (31) they comprised 89% of removal flights, about the same as February.


ICE Air flights to Guatemala increased for the second consecutive month from 36 in February to 40 in March, the highest month since July 2022 at 46, even though encounters of Guatemalans at the border in February 2023 were lower than July 2022 by 6,066. The 40 removal flights in March were 16  above the prior six-month average of only 25. Based on reports by Guatemala Migration, the US is estimated to have returned 280 more people by air in March 2023 than in February 2023,  and 423 more in March 2023 compared to March 2022.

With the fifteen (15)  Mexican government deportation flights to Guatemala added to the ICE flights, Guatemala received 55 flights, returning 6,715 citizens by air from the US and Mexico. Combined with the estimated 3,445 Guatemalans returned by land by Mexico at Tecún Únam an estimated 10,160 Guatemalans returned by the US and Mexico, 692 more than in February.


Flights to Honduras have been increasing each of the past three months: 16 (JAN 2023), 22 (FEB 2023),  27 (MAR 2023).  

In March 2023, estimated returns by ICE Air to Honduras of 3,186 persons represented 30% of February border encounters and 48% of those subject to Title 42, up from 24% and 39%, respectively, since February and lower than return ratios for Guatemala.

Combined with the 11 Mexican government deportation flights, Honduras received 38 return flights in March, up slightly from 34 in February. 


Ice Air Flights to Ecuador increased for the fifth month in a row: 28 (FEB 2023) to 31 (MAR 2023). There were just 1-3 flights per month from February 2022 to October 2022.  


In March 2023, ICE Air Flights to Colombia increased slightly by 2, after the drastic increase in February of 13. 

El Salvador

Flights to El Salvador increased by 3: 4 (FEB 2023) to 7 (MAR 2023).  

Special Note: There has long been uncertainty as to whether El Salvador accepted returns of those subject to T42. According to a court declaration in November, El Salvador DOES NOT accept T42 flights, which means these are all T8 returns, some of which could be expedited.

Other destinations:


In December 2023 and January 2023, flights were just one per month. In February 2023 they rose to 1 per week, and remained there in March 2023.


Experienced 1 flight in what now seems to be a monthly pattern. Witness at the Border recorded these flights: Dec 13 2022, Jan 31 2023, February 28 2023, March 29 2023.  There were reportedly 42 people deported on the flight of March 29 2023. 


Following 2 months at 1 flight per month (DEC 2022, JAN 2023), flights increased to 3 in  March 2023 from 0 in February 2023. 

Small Jet Removals

Observations included two flights on a Gryphon Air Gulfstream that carries 12-15 passengers as a maximum. Deportations on this route included Liberia, Angola, and DR Congo.

Other destinations for ICE Air flights this month were:

Dominican Republic (3)

Nicaragua (1)

Jamaica (1)

Mexico Operated Removal

Flights to all countries increased with Guatemala up 3 (12 to 15), Honduras down 1 (12 to 11), Ecuador up 1 (3 to 4), El Salvador up 1 (4 to 5), Nicaragua down 2 (2 to 0) and 

Cuba down 1 (2 to 1).

Departure cities in Mexico include Mexico City, Tapachula, Saltillo, Reynosa, Hermosillo, and San Luis Potosi.


Deportation flights have been widely reported to be approved now by Cuba. However, it does not seem that T42 flights have been approved. 

Sources: Witness At the Border, WOLA


A New Crisis Emerged: Migrant Child Labor in the U.S. 


What is upsetting is that these children are not undocumented; most of them turned themselves in to Customs and Border Protection at the border to ask for asylum, and they were then released from government custody to alleged sponsors or family members who — due to a lack of thorough screening processes — turned out to be deep in the business of child and labor exploitation.

In 2022, 130,000 unaccompanied children crossed the U.S.-Mexican border. From the last two years, the numbers add up to a quarter million children (and possibly more that were not documented by government agencies) arriving at the border in hopes of receiving asylum. With this number of migrant children at the U.S. southern border increasing drastically over the past few years, it is not surprising that the federal office responsible for the welfare of the children, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR, a subdivision of the government agency Health and Human Services, or HHS) is lacking resources to provide adequate care.

Last year, headlines accumulated in newspapers about children sleeping on the floor in shelters or being placed in adult detention centers as the capacities of shelters for migrant children was maxed out. This resulted in the Biden Administration as well as HHS secretary Xavier Becerra to pressure the agency to move out children from these shelters as quickly as possible, asking for procedures to be done similarly to “an assembly line.” While this might seem like a noble approach to decreasing the amount of time that migrant children have to linger in a temporary state in highly inappropriate settings, it brought about another crisis – one that might be far worse than sleeping on the floor of detention centers. A few weeks ago, the New York Times released an exposé reporting in detail on the fate of many unaccompanied migrant children as young as 12 years old ending up in the hands of traffickers or exploiters and having to work long, overnight shifts in severely unsafe workplaces such as factories or construction sites. This is how a U.S. child labor crisis came to be.

Under regular procedures, unaccompanied migrants under the age of 18 who turn themselves in at the U.S.-Mexico border to request asylum are being sent to ORR shelters, where they stay for what is set out to be a maximum of 60 days before being released to a sponsor — often a family member who already lives in the United States. Since it is the responsibility of HHS to undergo a thorough vetting of potential sponsors in order to ensure the children’s safety after their release, many migrant children end up spending far longer in ORR custody than two months, always in a state of uncertainty. However, these are the procedures under “regular” conditions, and what we can see at the border currently is certainly not that. With the rising number of unaccompanied children arriving at the border, government agencies have been urged to drastically speed up the processing of migrant children, including their release to U.S. sponsors, and thus the vetting standards have lowered significantly. A lack of background checks and post-release checkups with the children results in them being released to people already sponsoring more than a dozen other migrant children or not providing proof of care of the children and enrolment in schools after their release — all of which are clear signs of trafficking and labor exploitation. The New York Times report mentions shocking numbers of the Department of Health and Human Services losing contact with 85,000 children within a month of having been released to a sponsor last year. In total, HHS loses track of a third of migrant children after they are released from HHS custody.

Many of these sponsors then claim that the children are in a lot of debt, having to repay them for the cost of becoming a sponsor and taking them in. There are examples in the New York Times article of children being handed receipts for document fees, buying clothes and mattresses and even a simple dinner for both the child and sponsor. In addition, many children are under immense pressure to send remittances back home to their families in Central or South America. Instead of going to school, or — when working night shifts — on top of attending school, these children from the young age of 12 are then sent to manufacturing companies, slaughterhouses, construction sites or other high risk workplaces to earn money and work off their “debt.” Some of the companies the children end up working for include Hearthside Food Solutions, Target, Walmart, and car manufacturing plants of companies such as Hyundai and Kia. One common strategy for companies to get away with — often knowingly — hiring children under the age of 16 to work in their factories is through the use of third party staffing agencies. For the companies this is a highly attractive business model, since low employment rates and a tight job market are making other forms of employment more costly, and children are far cheaper labor forces. In addition to that, because the children have technically been employed not directly by the company but through another group, they can often avoid sanctions and fines in the case of an audit.

And while one might wonder how it can be that while these children are working in the factories in plain sight, very few incidents of child labor have been made public, the issue is not that simple. Many unaccompanied children who come to the United States are under immense pressure to send remittances back home to their families — money they don’t have and are legally not allowed to earn. Thus, while the working conditions are highly unsuitable for children, they might not have many other choices than to keep working. Many migrant children are also scared of possible legal consequences such as deportation when reporting their situation to government officials. Making matters worse, most children coming to the U.S. from the southern border have little to no knowledge of English and do not understand the legal protections to which they are entitled under U.S. child labor laws, as the standards are rarely the same in their home countries.

The actual number of migrant children who have been released from HHS custody and are now forcibly working under insufferable conditions in highly dangerous workplaces is unfathomable. Since 2017, at least twelve of those children have died on the job, and many others have had to endure serious injuries, hurting their backs in dangerous falls or losing limbs to heavy machinery. What is upsetting is that these children are not undocumented; most of them turned themselves in to Customs and Border Protection at the border to ask for asylum, and they were then released from government custody to alleged sponsors or family members who — due to a lack of thorough screening processes — turned out to be deep in the business of child and labor exploitation.

Since the release of The New York Times report article about the child labor crisis in the U.S., the Biden Administration announced immediate and intense government action, such as increasing investigations into HHS and Department of Labor procedures and raising standards for check-ups on the children who have already been released to sponsors. While this quick response is laudable, it is questionable whether that will be enough to protect migrant children and ensure the safety of those who are currently working in factories and construction companies across the country. According to The Hill, seven states have passed or introduced bills to lower child labor protections just this year (e.g., in Arkansas workers under the age of 16 no longer need state permission to get a job), making it increasingly difficult to hold government agencies and companies accountable for hiring young children. Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services is putting the responsibility for monitoring workplaces entirely on the Department of Labor, while fully disregarding their obligation to check on and continue caring for the children after having been released from their shelters, in addition to ensuring a thorough and qualitative vetting of potential sponsors beforehand.

No matter how much the blame is being pushed around between different government agencies and departments, the matter of fact is that there are too many migrant children currently situated with unsuitable sponsors and forced into highly inappropriate work settings. They are missing out on school and opportunities to learn English and establish a life in the US. They are suffering severe mental and physical strains on the job. They are left without support, simply not knowing whether to simply remain silent and continue in hazardous jobs. And this is where action is needed; from HHS, from the Department of Labor, from the Biden Administration, and from everyone in between who is involved in the children’s way into the factories.

Sources: The New York Times, The Hill, Democracy Now, NPR, Reuters


At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border 

This is a space where we share current incidents from the US southern border to show that these issues that we write about do, in fact, immediately affect people at the border and in detention, and the horrible things many migrants have to experience while seeking refuge in the U.S. 


March 8, 2023: CBP and Border Patrol Deadly Force Incidents Since 2020

            There are 10 cases, that WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America) is aware of, that may have violated the Use of Force policy that the Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol have in place. These are cases involving CBP officers or Border Patrol agents, in which: personnel used deadly force under circumstances in which the immediacy of the threat of death or bodily injury remains unclear or personnel may have failed to prevent the death of an individual in custody. 

The Department of Homeland Security’s Use of Force Policy was updated on February 7, 2023 and states a set of very narrow circumstances under which the Department’s personnel, such as CBP officers and Border Patrol agents at the border, may use deadly force or discharge a firearm, if they have reasonable belief that the person poses an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. 

The 10 cases mentioned above all happened since 2020 and include:

  • July 9, 2020: A CBP officer and a contract security guard shot and killed an unidentified Mexican man, who they reported was wielding a knife, just inside the U.S. border at the Calexico, California port of entry. It remains unclear whether this man posed an imminent threat to any other individual, or whether the situation could have been de-escalated without loss of life.
  • October 23, 2020: Border Patrol agent Ryan Gonsalves shot and killed David Angel Villalobos Baldovinos, a Mexican citizen, following a reported “scuffle” at the San Ysidro port of entry south of San Diego. The circumstances and severity of the “scuffle” remain unclear; Gonsalves suffered “minor injuries, though police did not elaborate on the extent of the injuries,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported
  • January 29, 2021: A Border Patrol agent shot and killed Diosmani Ramos, a Cuban migrant, as he emerged from the Rio Grande in Hidalgo, Texas. Helen Diéguez, Ramos’s partner, told Univisión that when Ramos reached the river bank, the agent was pointing a gun at him. “Diosmani grabbed a stone, the officer told him to drop it, and when the young man did not do so, he shot him in the chest.” When Ramos fell to the ground after being shot, the agent “told him again to drop the stone, he did not drop it because he was on the ground doubled over in pain, and then the agent shot him five more times… If what they wanted was to grab him, there were many ways to do it, not by shooting him six times in the chest,” Diéguez said.
  • May 14, 2021: Three Border Patrol agents shot and killed San Diego resident Silvestre Vargas Estrada through the windshield of his car, following a pursuit in Campo, California. The San Diego County Sheriff’s report on this case refers to a “confrontation” but not to Vargas attempting to use deadly force.
  • August 2, 2021: A Salvadoran man, Jason González Landaverde, died while in Border Patrol custody in a rural area near Eagle Pass, Texas. CBP reported that he became “unresponsive” after being restrained for having become “unruly.” González spent an hour shackled on the ground while agents awaited a transport vehicle, during which time he passed away. “The autopsy reported the cause of death was acute renal failure,” a February 1, 2023 report from the DHS Inspector-General explained, “which the medical examiner believed was most likely due to a combination of dehydration and hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature).”
  • February 19, 2022: Border Patrol agent Kendrek Bybee Staheli shot and killed Carmelo Cruz Marcos, a citizen of Mexico, at night on a desert trail near Douglas, Arizona. According to a statement from the Cochise County, Arizona Sheriff’s Department, Staheli claimed that Cruz resisted capture “then ran approximately six feet away before picking up a large rock and turning back towards the agent making a throwing motion with the hand that held the rock.” The agent then “fired his weapon an unknown number of times as he was in fear for his life and safety.” The County Sheriff’s Office report on the incident, shared by the Intercept in May 2022, cited an English-speaking migrant who had accompanied Cruz. That witness claimed that he heard Staheli shout “This is America motherf—” shortly before shots were fired. He also alleged that “Agent Tang had told Agent Staheli ‘it would all be ok and that he had his back.’ Carlos further said he heard Agent Tang tell Agent Staheli that he should say he was attacked with a rock.” In May 2022 the Cochise County Attorney declined to move forward with a prosecution.
  • May 24, 2022: Abigail Roman Aguilar, a citizen of Mexico, died of stab wounds to the upper chest (“sharp force injuries of the trunk”), according to the Pima County Medical Examiner. The Arizona Daily Star reported on June 18: “Aguilar was admitted to the Copper Queen Community Hospital in Douglas with face and lip injuries following a barbed wire incident while running from the United States Border Patrol, the autopsy report said. After he was discharged from the hospital, he was reportedly involved in an altercation with a Border Patrol agent, who ultimately stabbed Aguilar with a knife.” The nature and severity of the altercation, and the motive for the agent’s unusual choice to use a knife, remain unclear.
  • October 4, 2022: Border Patrol agents shot and killed Mexican citizen Manuel González Morán inside the Ysleta Border Patrol station in eastern El Paso, Texas. González reportedly threatened agents with a pair of scissors. According to CBP, agents in the station shot González Morán after issuing verbal commands and unsuccessfully attempting to subdue him with a taser.“A security camera in the room was not functioning at the time of the incident,” a “person with knowledge of the investigation” told the Washington Post. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) “is obtaining more information regarding the operational history of the station’s video recording system,” the agency reported.
  • October 30, 2022: Members of Border Patrol’s tactical unit, BORTAC, shot and killed an unnamed individual on U.S. soil near San Luis, Arizona. A Border Patrol camera had shown a member of the group holding a gun, and the agency reported that a handgun was found near the man’s body. Its statement did not specify the immediacy of the threat that provoked the agents to open fire.
  • January 13, 2023: An ill, unidentified migrant, who had reportedly become “agitated and began to kick the interior” and was “acting in a combative and agitated manner while sitting in the back seat” of a Border Patrol vehicle, died while being transported, shackled, through rural Arizona to receive medical attention. Agents did not realize he had died until they arrived.

To read more about the use of deadly force and the people directly impacted by the CBP and Border Patrol agents since 2020, go to the WOLA website below. 

Source: WOLA Border Oversight

Want to find out more about the conditions at the southern US border?

Sign up for the weekly Border Update from WOLA.


2024 Federal Budget: Promoting Border Enforcement and Unsafe Migration

On March 9, the Biden Administration presented its budget request for the 2024 federal budget. Among plans to extend Medicare, tax increases, and continued support for Ukraine, the budget proposal includes significant increases in funds for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement I(ICE) and other border agencies belonging to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In total, the 2024 budget currently accounts for $25 billion for CBP and ICE—roughly an $800 million increase over the 2023 budget. 

While the budget for the upcoming year is not yet finalized and will likely change in the process of being approved by the US House and Senate, it is sending the wrong message to both U.S. citizens and potential migrants who hope to seek refuge in the United States but instead are being pushed away by increases in border enforcement and surveillance. This is happening at a time when Republicans, holding a majority in the House, are emphasizing the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, and Biden is under pressure from both Republicans and Democrats – in different ways, of course – to address what is called the “immigration crisis” at the southern border.

Here is an overview of what exactly Biden’s 2024 budget request intends to achieve in terms of border control and how that might affect the U.S. immigration system. 

2024 federal budget request: border control and migration

The 2024 federal budget would allow funds for the hiring of almost a thousand additional CBP and ICE agents, including: 350 Border Patrol agents, 150 Customs and Border Patrol officers to be employed at the country’s ports of entry, and 460 additional processing assistants at CBP and ICE.

The budget would also include a $4.7 billion contingency fund for DHS in order to “respond to migrant surges along the southwest border.”

Additionally, the budget proposal sets aside over $590 million for the improvement or implementation of various border technologies and surveillance systems, including: installing non-intrusive inspection systems (with a focus on fentanyl detection) at ports of entry, an additional 4,275 body cameras for Border Patrol (BP) and CBP agents, as well as 10 vehicle-mounted cameras, and the employment of the RAVEN (Repository for Analytics in a Virtualized Environment) system, focusing on human smuggling and fentanyl transshipment.

While the above mentioned funding proposals are clearly directed towards increasing border enforcement and are further promoting an anti-immigration sentiment along the U.S. borders, there are some funds directed towards the immigration and asylum system that could be beneficial for asylum seekers in the United States: The budget intends to hire 150 additional immigration judge teams in an attempt to tackle the immigration court’s immense backlog of almost 1.9 million asylum cases (Jan 2023), and $7.3 billion are set aside for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to improve the refugee resettlement infrastructure and response to the needs of unaccompanied children.

Finally, $430 million is appointed to the State Department and Foreign Operations for “hemispheric migration management” in Latin America and the Caribbean, aimed at tackling the root causes of migration—one of Biden’s election promises made in 2020.

What does this budget proposal mean for U.S. immigration?

While the Biden Administration claims that increasing the funding of CBP and ICE will help “strengthen border security and provide safe, lawful pathways for migration” (The White House), as well as support a “fair, orderly, and humane immigration system,” the opposite can be expected. Enhancing border security and enforcement is almost never the answer to a crumbling immigration system. Above all, the increase in the number of Border Patrol agents and in the employment of surveillance technology at the border will further close off the border to refuge-seeking migrants. It will result in more illegal crossing attempts, since legal entryways are more and more restricted and migrants simply do not have another choice. Increased border enforcement does not change the number of people arriving at the U.S. border, fleeing from poverty, natural disasters, and persecution. It will not address the root causes of migration. It will simply make the act of crossing the U.S. border more difficult and dangerous, as migrants will have to find new ways to get to a safer place. 

The $800 million increase in ICE and CBP budgets for 2024, directed towards employing more agents and more surveillance technology, only contributes to an already broken immigration system. Instead, the budget should focus on tackling the backlog of asylum cases in the country, as well as the many children and single adults waiting hopelessly to be reunited with their families, set free from unjust detention, and simply able to start a new life in a “safe” country. 

Sources: WOLA, The White House, The Hill


Temporary Protected Status (TPS) updates

The secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS Secretary) has the authority to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible foreign born individuals whom DHS deems are unable to return home safely due to conditions or circumstances preventing their country from adequately handling the return, such as armed conflict or environmental disaster.

Migrants who qualify for TPS are in better shape than others who are totally undocumented. Even though they have no path to permanent legalization, they can get  permission to work while residing in the US. And about every two years they can re-apply to renew their TPS and work permit.

Biden expands TPS

Since TPS was established under the Immigration Action of 1990, new TPS designations for countries were issued six times during the George H.W. Bush Administration, ten times during the Clinton Administration, twice during the George W. Bush Administration, eight times during the Obama Administration, and eight times so far during the Biden Administration. President Biden has asked Congress to pass legislation that would allow TPS recipients who meet certain conditions to apply immediately for green cards that would let them become lawful permanent residents. The president has also broadened the list of conditions under which immigrants can seek TPS protection. For some nationalities whose TPS was set to expire, the president has re-designated TPS for them.


This is a list of new or re-designated TPS designations since late 2022:

Ethiopia – a new TPS designation that will expire June 12 2024

Haiti – a re-designation that will expire Aug 3 2024

Yemen – a re-designation that will expire Sep 3 2024

Somalia - a re-designation that will expire Sep 17 2024


TPS-holders contribute to the US economy and provide homes to ½ million US citizen children

The immigration advocacy organization recently released a report on the status of TPS-holders in the US. Overall, immigrants’ participation in the US labor force is higher than US-born citizens. This also bears out for TPS-holders. Some 82% of TPS holders from El Salvador, 85% from Honduras, and 83% of Haitian TPS holders are also in the labor force. reports that “TPS-eligible individuals contribute some $22 billion in wages to the U.S. economy each year and work in more than 600,000 jobs.” The word “eligible” is used because in addition to the approximate 700,000 current TPS-holders, there are approximately another 250,000 more who are eligible to apply for TPS. TPS-holders (or TPS-eligible persons) are heads of households in the homes of some 800,000 US citizens, including 400,000 US citizen children.


TPS should be expanded

In addition to the immigrants of 16 nationalities who are currently eligible for TPS, many more need the protection and would qualify under the current definition of TPS. To expand TPS to more nationalities, members of Congress and human rights advocates have proposed the addition of new TPS countries where conditions remain unsafe for people to return, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Each of these countries faces extraordinary human rights challenges, widespread violence, or recent climate-related events that warrant immediate TPS designations.


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) are leading an effort among US-based human rights groups for a re-designation (i.e., new designation) of TPS for Nicaraguans. They point to the consolidation of judicial, electoral, and presidential power under the Ortega-Murillo regime, and repression against dissidents. Furthermore, the structural and economic impacts of Category 4 Hurricanes Eta and Iota are still felt. Currently, the only Nicaraguans eligible for TPS are those who can prove continuous residence in the US since January 5, 1999.



Over 100 local, state, and national organizations led by the Nigerian Center in Washington, D.C. are calling on President Biden and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to grant immediate designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Nigeria, and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Nigeria.



In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the armed conflict took a dangerous turn in November 2022 as M23 rebels staged a comeback. DRC currently tops the list of the top five countries for refugees resettled to the United States. But of those top five countries (DRC, Syria, Sudan, Burma, and Ukraine), DRC is the only country not currently designated for Temporary Protected Status. More than 1600 people were killed in the armed conflict during 2022. Currently a coalition of organizations is pushing DHS to designate TPS for the Congolese community residing in the US.



On January 18, 2023, US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Mike Carey (R-OH-15) sent a letter to President Joe Biden and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting the designation of Temporary Protected Status for Mauritanians in the United States. Credit is due to organizers like Maryam Sy with the Ohio Immigrant Alliance. Ohio is home to the largest group of Black Mauritanians in the United States. They are refugees from the genocide of the 1980s-90s and today’s apartheid regime. Prior to 2017, deportations from the U.S. to Mauritania were deliberately rare, but President Trump increased deportations to Mauritania exponentially.

TPS-designated nationals

Approximately 670,000 immigrants are residing legally in the US under TPS. The Biden administration recently renewed TPS eligibility for over 280,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. The administration also recently extended, designated or redesignated TPS protections for an estimated 135,000 eligible immigrants from Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia and Yemen. These most recent updates extend protections for affected TPS recipients until at least June 2024.

Here is the list of nationals for whom TPS has been designated, ranked in order of when their TPS protection is scheduled to expire. (Immigrants from the same country can be eligible for TPS under separate designations, e.g. Haiti.) The number in parentheses is the approximate number of persons of that nationality who hold TPS status, if available from DHS.



Oct 19: Ukraine (9520)

Oct 19: Sudan (290 – see separate designation below)

Sep 3: Yemen (1510 – see separate designation below)

Nov 3: South Sudan (80)

Nov 20: Afghanistan

Dec 7: Cameroon (NA)



March 10: Venezuela (111,700)

March 31: Syria (6,448)

May 24: Burma/Myanmar (380)

June 12: Ethiopia (26,730)

*June 30: El Salvador (193,940—many here since the 2001 earthquake)

*June 30: Haiti (42,890; those entering the US after Nov 6 2022 in separate category below)

*June 30: Honduras (58,625—many here since Hurricane Mitch in 1998)

*June 30: Nicaragua (3,130--many here since Hurricane Mitch in 1998)

*June 30: Nepal (9,355)

**June 30: Sudan  (570)

Aug 3: Haiti

Sep 3: Yemen (1,355)

Sep 17: Somalia (370)


 *On Nov. 10, 2022, DHS posted a Federal Register Notice announcing that beneficiaries under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for Haiti in 2011, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan in 2013 will retain their TPS while the preliminary injunction in Ramos v. Wolf and the stay of proceedings order in Bhattarai v. Nielsen No. 19-cv-731 (N.D. Cal, March 12, 2019 ) remain in effect, provided they remain individually eligible for TPS.


**June 30, 2024, for current beneficiaries under the 2013 TPS designation for Sudan whose documents have been automatically extended by the Nov. 2022 FRN. (If the Ramos court order continues, DHS will publish an updated notice as needed.)


As the expiration date of TPS protections approaches, the DHS Secretary has the authority to renew TPS for another 18 months. The more permanent (and just) fix would be for Congress to give permanent legal status and a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders. That is what migrant justice advocates are pushing for.






Now that you are up to date on the issues at and around the southern border of the U.S., here is what you can do to take action this week and act in solidarity with migrants and their families.

Tell Congress to Protect Dreamers

DACA, the policy in place to protect Dreamers, has been ruled unlawful by two separate federal courts since 2021, and although the rulings allow the nearly 600,000 DACA recipients to keep and renew their status, the Supreme Court could very well strip these protections if they concur with the lower courts.

 Only Congress has the tools to provide permanent protections by passing legislation to create a pathway to legal status for Dreamers. The Dream Act of 2023 (S.365) was reintroduced by Senators Graham and Durbin in the Senate this year to provide this pathway.

 We call on our community to contact their members of Congress to rise to the urgency of the moment and to pass a bill like the Dream Act to protect individuals who have called this country their home their whole lives.

 Click here to send a message to Congress.


Tell Border Patrol to stop detaining pregnant and nursing mothers!

In January 2023, the US Border Patrol apprehended and transported a pregnant woman who was having contractions to a San Diego hospital, and then attempted to separate her from her school-aged daughter—a wholly unnecessary action that caused extreme stress and harm to both the pregnant mother and her young child. Border agents routinely put pregnant migrants in cells, denying people adequate and necessary medical care. These conditions are life-threatening.

Please send a message to US Customs and Border Patrol and demand that pregnant, postpartum and nursing persons (as well as infants) be released from detention as soon as possible. 


Urge your congressperson to support the American Families United Act (AFUA)

 The American Families United Act (AFUA), or H.R. 1698, introduced by Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) on March 22, 2023 and co-sponsored by Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Florida), would provide protection from deportation and a pathway to a green card for some members of mixed-status families living in the United States. The bill is designed so that the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security have discretion to allow certain individuals to remain with their families stateside. 


This bill is to protect families from having to go through the heartbreaking challenge of having family members deported after being unable to complete the process for lawful permanent residence. This bill would also help families that are unable to sponsor their spouses and children for green cards. 


Click here to find your US representative (congressperson). Ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 1698. 


Thank you for reading IRTF’s Migrant Justice Newsletter!

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Wednesday, April 26, 2023