In this newsletter, please read about
- Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH
- The Biden Administration’s Plans to Overhaul Border Policies after the End of Title 42
- Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures. Update on Removal Flight Trends
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Renewed for Haitians
- At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border
After reading the articles, please take a few moments to advocate for migrant justice with our TAKE ACTION items (listed at the bottom of this newsletter).
1- Urge Congress to Reject Racist Anti-Asylum Policies
2- Permanent Pathway to Citizenship for DACA and TPS Recipients
Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH
In November 2022, Ohio overtook Missouri and now ranks #18 nationally in the number of deportation proceedings filed, while holding its #10 position in ordering deporations.
The immigration court in Cleveland (actually called the Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR) is the only immigration court in the whole state of Ohio. At the beginning of the new Fiscal Year 2023 in October, a high trend was set with 1,239 new deportation proceedings filed in one month. November exceeded that number, with 1,336 cases filed and more than doubling the total to 2,575. This month Ohio also rises to the #18 spot nationwide in the number of deportation proceedings filed, surpassing Missouri. When it comes to the number of immigrants ordered deported, Ohio still ranks #10 nationwide. These are the recent numbers from TRAC (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, based at Syracuse University).
Venezuelans rises to the #5 spot in deportation proceedings nationwide with 6,830 new cases filed in November, only 20 short of the 6,850 cases filed in the previous month. Taking a look at Ohio, Venezuelans now rank #1. In the second month of fiscal year 2023, 189 cases were filed against Venezuelans in Ohio, 55 more than in October. With 6,970 newly filed cases across all immigration courts in the US, the total is now 13,680 nationwide.
Cleveland EOIR - Deportation Proceedings Filed
Through November 2022 the number of new deportation proceedings filed nationwide more than doubled, reaching 168,606 deportation proceedings filed nationwide. 1,336 new cases were filed at the immigration court in Cleveland in November, bringing Ohio up to the 18th place of the most cases filed by state throughout the country. Most of the deportation proceedings filed in this month in the Cleveland EOIR court have been against Venezuelans (189), Nicaraguans (117), and Colombians (120).
Nationwide, these nationalities top the list of new deportation proceedings filed this fiscal year:
The number of cases filed shows that despite the promise of the Biden administration to slow down deportations, in practice the number of new cases filed in one month has risen: 84,454 in November, compared to the prior month’s 84,152. The same can be seen in Ohio: 1,336 in November, compared to 1,239 in October.
November 2022 (Fiscal Year 2023)
New deportation proceedings filed (Nov. 2022)
New cases filed this month in Cleveland
(since October 2022)
(since October 2022)
Cleveland EOIR - Deportations Ordered
Ordered deported from Cleveland EOIR
FY22 total = 3,517
350: AUG 2022
402: SEP 2022
440: OCT 2022
402: NOV 2022
Deportations ordered (November 2022)
New deporations ordered this month from Cleveland
(since October 2022)
(since October 2022)
Furthermore, 623 deportations were ordered nationwide against Haitians (19 from the Cleveland EOIR) and against 331 Cubans (compared to 180 Cubans ordered deported in October). .
MINORS ordered deported from Cleveland EOIR (juvenile docket)
161: JUL 2022
175: AUG 2022
190: SEP 2022
30: OCT 2022
57: NOV 2022
NOV 2022 – minors ordered deported from Cleveland
The Cleveland Juvenile Court ordered 57 deportations against minors, 34 Guatemalans (a doubling compared to October), 22 Hondurans and one minor from El Salvador.
Source: TRAC at Syracuse University (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse)
The Biden Administration’s Plans to Overhaul Border Policies after the End of Title 42
After many attempts by the Biden Administration to suspend the use of Title 42, a Trump-era border policy that was implemented originally as a public health proclamation to fight the spread of Covid-19, a federal court ruled on November 15 to officially end Title 42 on December 21. [Note: Due to a Supreme Court ruling on December 19, Title 42 will continue for the foreseen future.] Since its implementation back in 2020, the policy has been misused to expel millions of people seeking refuge at the southern U.S. border. It specifically targeted Haitian migrants, sending them as well as other nationals arriving at the border back to their home countries without due process.
The ruling is both good and bad news. It gives to migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border some hope that they can solicit political asylum and that they will be granted a fair and thorough assessment of their case. But human rights organizations are already fearing that as one harmful and racist border policy comes to an end, others will appear in its place, only carrying on the immorality of previous border regulations in a new form.
In late November, Axios reported that officials from the White House National Security Council, Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and Justice Department have been involved in discussions about new border regulations to prepare for the end of Title 42. Many are expecting a sudden surge in the already increasing numbers of border crossings as people are thought to interpret the end of the Trump-era policy as an opening of the borders. To work against a potential new border crisis, there is talk of implementing rather drastic measures, some of which don’t seem too different from border policies that were in place under Trump.
One proposal is placing single adults into an expedited removal process if 1) they did not first apply for asylum in another country through which they traveled, or 2) they did not pre-apply for some other legal pathway into the US. Migrant justice advocates rightfully describe this as restrictive and punitive. Legal pathways are few. That’s why people come and cross “illegally.” If there were legal ways, why wouldn’t they be taking those paths now? And requiring that they apply for asylum in another country? For Central Americans, that is ridiculous. Conditions of violence and corruption are pervasive in the region. Why would a Honduran seek asylum in El Salvador, or a Salvadoran in Guatemala? This new measure would essentially make it impossible for many single migrants to enter the United States.
A second proposal is criminal prosecution. The administration suggests dramatically increasing efforts to prosecute single adults who have illegally crossed the border, especially if they have tried to evade Border Patrol. Migrants targeted by the proposal would have committed no other crimes or illegal activities, and it would make border crossing attempts a high-risk path into the country.
While there are some positive measures being talked about, such as raising the cap of the number of Venezuelans (and potentially Nicaraguans) being admitted under humanitarian parole, many of the new proposals only extend the violent and immoral blocking of thousands of eligible asylum seekers. The new proposals are not in line with the Biden administration’s promised restoring of the broken asylum system.
In consequence of an end to Title 42, the number of people seeking refuge at the US southern border will increase. Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) is already overwhelmed with the numbers of migrants waiting to be processed, messily holding them in detention centers or sending them back to Mexico to await further notice. New border policies that promise to be, in some ways, equally harmful as Title 42, will not fix this. So it is essential to let Congress know through actions like this one that any attempts to put in place new racist and unjustified anti-asylum policies should be stopped.
Sources: Axios, CWS Global (Church World Service)
Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures. Update on Removal Flight Trends
On November 15, a federal judge struck down Title 42 after years of advocacy by migrant justice advocates to stop this racist and xenophobic program. But whether Title 42 will actually end is still up in the air. The court gave the Biden administration until December 21, but it is still in effect.
Despite his public stance to end Title 42, Biden is urging the Mexican government to accept more migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela under the COVID-19 expulsion order. There have been concerns raised by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the escalating number of migrants crossing into the US, but Mexico has not yet promised any specific actions. Mexico already accepts US Title 42 “expelled” migrants who are nationals of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
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 7,934 ICE Air flights (compared to 4,845 in 2020); 1,442 of those have been removal flights. With an estimated average of 100 passengers per flight, this means that over the past 12 months, as many as 144,200 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 November 2022, there were 754 ICE Air flights (up from 685 in October), utilizing 28 different planes operated by the charter carriers IAero aka Swift, World Atlantic, GlobalX, and Gryphon Air. This number is above the average for the past six months.
Shuffle flights increased by 31 to a 35-month record 523 in November, driven by the record number of lateral flights (see below). This number is 29% above the average for the past six months.
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 increased to 128 from 115 in October; this is the highest month recorded since March 2021. The 128 was almost 2x the prior 6-month average of 67.
Lateral flights are from border city to border city. Most lateral flights originated in El Paso, Tucson, and Yuma. The destination cities include Harlingen, Laredo, and San Diego. Migrants are flown from one border city to another for processing, which leads to expulsion for at least half of them. There are also buses doing the same thing, but no data is available on the buses.
There were 101 removal flights (transporting people internationally and returning them to their home countries) in November 2022. Although this number is up 18 from the prior month, it is a 20% decrease from the prior six-month average.
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 break records in the number of monthly removal flights, a trend that is both devastating and alarming. While these countries have been breaking records, there has been a decreasing trend of flights over the past few months. Flights to Guatemala (26), Honduras (23), and El Salvador (11) have been decreasing for at least the past five months, while flights to Colombia (17) have just started to decrease in October.
ICE Air flights to Guatemala increased by 30% (26 in November, 20 in October). Over the last four months, encounters of Guatemalans have dropped significantly from 24,648 in June to 14,806 in October; flights have decreased by 18 ( from 44 in June to 26 in November). The US returned 899 more people by air in November at 3,129, but the number was down dramatically from June’s 5,350.
In addition to the 26 removal flights originating in the US, the Mexican government operated an additional nine removal flights to Guatemala. In total, Guatemala received 35 flights, returning around 4,435 citizens by air from the US and Mexico. Moreover, 2,913 Guatemalans were returned by land by Mexico. In summary, about 7,348 Guatemalans were returned to Guatemala by the US and Mexico in November.
To Honduras, flights Increased from 22 (October) to 23 (November). In November, estimated returns by ICE to Honduras of 2,100 represented 17% of October encounters and 38% of those subjected to T42. Over the last five months, encounters of Hondurans by CBP at the US southern border dropped significantly from 24,177 in June to 14,003 in October; flights decreased from 39 in June to 23 in November.
In addition to the 23 removal flights originating in the US, the Mexican government operated an additional six removal flights. So Honduras received 28 return flights in October, down from 25 in September, returning an estimated 2,800 citizens by air.
ICE Air Flights to Colombia decreased by three (17 in November, 20 in October). This is the 3rd straight month of modest decline from 23 in August. In October there were 17,195 encounters of Colombians and 1,958 subjected to T42.
Flights to El Salvador increased slightly by one (11 in November, 10 in October). Four of those flights were coupled with flights to Ecuador, so there were only 7 unique flights to El Salvador.
With Peru now accepting T42 flights from the US, they received 4 flights in November, with 3 flights in October, typically every Friday. There was one Friday when there were no flights, and that was when Secretary Blinken was in Peru visiting the Peruvian foreign minister. Peru is categorized in the “other” category, so we can not know the exact number of encounters of Peruvians at the US southern border, but the country ranks 5th in removal flights.
Flights decreased from ten in August to two in each of the last three months. This is probably related to the decrease in encounters of Brazilians at the US southern border from 5,747 in August to 762 in October.
Zero flights for the second month in a row.
Other destinations for ICE Air flights this month were:
Dominican Republic (2)
Mexico Operated Removal
Mexico operated removal flights are now all operated by a new company, VivaAerobus, which operates many more commercial routes than Mexico’s old contractor, Magnacharter.
The number of flights increased from 10 in October to 22 in November.
Sources: Witness At the Border, Reuters
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) renewed for Haitians
Last month we reported on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for nationals of 15 countries (see the below). 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.
The secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS Secretary) has the authority to grant 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.
On December 5, DHS Secretary Mayorkas announced that he was extending TPS for Haitians for an additional 18 months, from February 4, 2023, through August 3, 2024, due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Haiti. He also re-designated Haiti for TPS, allowing eligible Haitian nationals residing in the United States as of November 6, 2022, to apply for TPS through August 3, 2024. But note: Haitians entering the US after November 6 are not eligible for TPS and, like other individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States, will be subject to removal.
DHS is acting in a humanitarian manner by extending and re-designating TPS for some Haitians. However, at the same time, DHS is trying to send a warning to other Haitians to NOT migrate into the US because they will NOT be eligible for TPS if they arrived post-November 6.
As of this writing, DHS continues to expel Haitians under Title 42. On December 13, a removal flight carried 26 Haitians back to their home country, where danger and insecurity await them. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criminal gangs in Haiti have killed an estimated 1,448 people, injured 1,145, and kidnapped 1,005 so far this year. The thousands of Haitians who have been returned under Title 42 (with never having the chance to apply for political asylum or TPS) face gang violence, hunger, and a cholera epidemic.
Increased militarization is also an imminent threat. In the Haiti Blog of CEPR (Center for Economic Policy Research), Jake Johnston reports on the deteriorating political situation in Haiti since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. President Biden is proposing deployment of US military forces in Haiti. History buffs will remember that after the assassination of a previous Haitian president in 1915, President Wilson sent in the Marines, ostensibly to restore law and order. That US military occupation that lasted until 1934. Today, human rights and other civil society organizations are voicing strong opposition to Biden’s military proposal. The idea is not popular in Haiti. Thousands of people have taken to the streets to denounce such a plan. The Ohio Immigrant Alliance is among 90 civil society organizations that signed a letter to President Biden on October 31, urging the administration to “to reflect on the long history of international interventions in Haiti, and how those actions have served to undermine state institutions, democratic norms, and the rule of law.”
The administration also announced that it would extend TPS protections for nationals of five other countries (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Sudan, and Nepal) who had been temporarily living and working in the US when Ramos v. Mayorkas was challenged. DHS filed a federal notice announcing that the benefit would be extended to at least June 30, 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. The number in parentheses is the approximate number of persons of that nationality who hold TPS status.
South Sudan (610)
El Salvador (193,940—many here since the 2001 earthquake)
Ethiopia (26,730 estimated eligible to apply, starting Dec 12 2022)
Honduras (58,625—many here since Hurricane Mitch in 1998)
Nicaragua (3,130--many here since Hurricane Mitch in 1998)
As the date of TPS protection expiration 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.
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.
[This is a summary of an article published in the San Diego Tribune, by Pedro Ríos, November 30, 2022]
At the San Ysidro border in 2010, US Border Patrol agents tortured and killed Anastasio Hernández Rojas, a migrant from Mexico. Twelve agents are alleged to have hogtied, dragged, beat, punched, kicked, used a stun gun on, kneeled on and stepped on the head and body of Anastasio until he stopped breathing. His widow and attorneys have taken the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, DC. When facing what they think is a threat, US security agents generally apply an ambiguous “objective reasonableness” criterion, based on officers’ perception of fear rather than any real threat to their safety. But international standards are stricter. If the IACHR sides with the family, then it would recommend that US security officers exercise force based on principles of necessity and proportionality. This could affect not only Border Patrol but local law enforcement as well.
At the hearing in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Andrea Guerrero, one of the attorneys for Hernández Rojas’ family and executive director of the San Diego-based nonprofit organization Alliance San Diego, addressed it in this way: “Every year, across all 50 states, police kill more than 1,000 people who are disproportionately Black and Brown. Only a handful of officers and no border agents have ever been convicted because the reasonableness standard favors them [in nearly all states] and justifies their perceptions to use force.”
Source: San Diego Union Tribune
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TAKE ACTION NOW
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.
In November, a federal court ruled that the continuation of Title 42 is in violation of U.S. law and that the expulsion policy must end by December 21. Despite the ruling, the administration is now considering other harmful and immoral approaches to block thousands of asylum seekers seeking safety and protection in the United States.
Now is an important time to tell Congress to hold the administration accountable to deliver on its promise to restore an orderly, welcoming, and just asylum system, to invest in community-based case management for asylum seekers, and to scale up access to the life-saving U.S. resettlement program.
Source: Church World Service Global
Permanent Pathway to Citizenship for DACA and TPS recipients
Temporary protections, like DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protected Status), are not enough. These programs are vulnerable to the courts and do not provide stability for our communities and families. That has been demonstrated by the Fifth Circuit’s recent ruling against DACA -- as well as multiple attempts to end both DACA and TPS over the years.
Congress must ACT NOW to permanently protect all immigrant youth, our families, and our communities from detention and deportation.
Send a message to your US senators and congressperson today!
Sources: Network Lobby, United We Dream
Thank you for reading IRTF’s Migrant Justice Newsletter!