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Migrant Justice Newsletter - FEB 2023




Migrant Justice Newsletter and Urgent Actions – FEB 2023

Welcome to IRTF’s February 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: deportations filed, deportations ordered
  • Removal Flights: Expulsions through Title 42, Title 8, and deportations
  • At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border
  • New Mexico Seeks to End ICE Contracts
  • Ohio Return from Deportation Working Group + New Resource Guide for Newcomers to NE Ohio
  • Ohio Sues over Biden’s New Humanitarian Parole Program
  • CBP Migrant Deaths Report: Yearly number of migrants found dead reached a new high in 2022


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

1-  Speak out against asylum ban

2-  Immigrants are Welcome



Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH

Ohio ranks #17 in deportation proceedings filed.

Ohio ranks #11 in deportations ordered.


Cleveland EOIR - Deportations proceedings filed 

Through the fourth month of fiscal year 2023, 331,291 new deportation cases have been filed nationwide, an increase of 89,677, the highest amount in one month. This is a big jump. The increase from November to December was just 73,008.  

In Ohio, 1,299, new deportation proceedings were filed in January 2023, 138 more than in December. This brings the fiscal year total up to 5,035. Nationwide Ohio stays #17 in filing deportation proceedings.     


TRAC Data Jan. 2023

New deportation proceedings filed 

New cases filed this month in Cleveland

(JAN 2023)

Cleveland, Ohio

(since OCT 2022)


(since OCT 2022)

In total

























The top 5 are listed above. Worth noting is that nationally the third highest number of deportation proceedings were filed against Cubans (27,687) and number five is Hondurans (26,097). In addition, 17,574 deportation proceedings were filed against Guatemalans. 

In the Cleveland EOIR, there was an increase of  138 in deportation proceedings filed (1161 in December, 1299 in January): 58 more new proceedings filed against Venezuelans, compared to December;  38 more were filed against Nicaraguans;  and 35 more against Mexicans. But for Haitians, the number of new proceedings filed fell by 30.  


Cleveland EOIR - Deportations Ordered

(please see the chart below)

In Ohio the immigration court ordered 427 new deportations in the month of January, bringing the total up to 1,580. This is 116 more than in December and indication that the lower number of new deportations ordered in December did not show a new trend. 

This trend is visible nationwide. The total number of deportations ordered now sits at 70,451 since October. The number of new deportations ordered was 16,256. That is 601 less than in November and 892 less compared to October. But just like the new deportation proceedings filed, this trend can be traced back to the Christmas holidays ergo a shorter month. Nationwide Ohio now is #11 in deportations ordered.            


Deportations ordered 

New deporations ordered this month from Cleveland (JAN 2023)

Cleveland, Ohio

(since OCT 2022)


(since OCT 2022)

In total
















El Salvador




























In addition to the countries listed above, five new deportations were ordered against Ecuadorans, bringing the total to 25 this fiscal year, and 2,854 nationally. 



In the Cleveland EOIR Juvenile Court, 27 new deportations were ordered against minors, bringing the total to 121 this fiscal year: 64 Guatemalans (9 more than Dec.), 51 Hondurans (16 more than Dec.), 4 Salvadorans (1 more), 1 Mexican and 1 new order against a Nicaraguan. 

As expected, the low number of new orders last month did not turn into a trend. Nationwide, compared to December, 116 more new deportations were ordered in January (427). This trend of a rise in new deportations ordered can be seen throughout almost all nationalities: 35 (Guatemala), 24 (Nicaragua) and 22 (Honduras). The number of new deportations ordered for  Cuban and Colombian minors was lower than in December.

Recent months, nationwide:

440: OCT 2022

402: NOV 2022

311: DEC 2022

427: JAN 2023


Jan 2023: 27 minors ordered deported from Cleveland EOIR

64 Guatemalan

51 Honduran

4 Salvadoran

1 Mexican

1 Nicaraguan


MINORS ordered deported from Cleveland EOIR (juvenile docket) in recent months:

30: OCT 2022

57: NOV 2022

21: DEC 2022

27: JAN 2023

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


Removal Flights: Expulsions through Title 42, Title 8, and deportations

In late December, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Biden administration to continue enforcing the policy pending a lawsuit by several Republican governors. Migrant justice advocates point to the life-threatening consequences that maintaining Title 42 in place has on those seeking asylum at the US/Mexico border. Immediately expelling migrants without giving them their right to seek asylum is the result of racist xenophobia; it is not (as Title 42 suggests) a measure to protect the health of people residing within the boundaries of the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made that clear many months ago. Title 42 is now set to end in May. 


ICE Air Flights

Over the last 12 months, there have been 7,913 ICE Air flights (up 1,789 from 2021);  1,387 of those have been removal flights (up 338 from 2021).  With an estimated average of 100 passengers per flight, this means that over the past 12 months, as many as 138,700 people could have been returned to Latin America, the Caribbean and a small number to Africa by air by the U.S.


Removal Flights, Lateral Flights, Domestic Shuffles:

In January 2023, there were 544 ICE Air flights (down from 729 in December), operated by four different charter carriers. This number is below the average for the past six months (689) by 145. 


Shuffle flights:

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. 

Shuffle flights decreased by 171 to 340 as lateral flights plunged by 89, from 134 to 45. January was the lowest month for shuffle flights since 308 in July 2022; lateral flights were only 31 that month. The decrease of flights can be seen mostly from the significant drop in lateral connections for multiple stops and returns.


Lateral flights:

Of the 340 shuffle flights in January 2023, only 134 were lateral flights. Lateral flights are from border city to border city. The number of lateral flights in January dropped by 89 from December because of the drop in encounters of migrants at the US/Mexico border to 150,000 from 251,487 in December.

Most lateral flights originated in El Paso (32), Tucson(1), and Yuma (12). The destination cities include Harlingen (14), Laredo (30), and San Diego (1). Migrants are flown from one border city to another for processing, which leads to expulsion for at least half of them. There are also lateral buses doing the same thing, but no data is available on the buses, including for expulsions of Venezuelans. 


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.

In January, removal flights were 83, down 12 from December 2022 and down 28 from the prior 6-month average. They were also down 29 from January of 2022. 

It should be noted that encounters of people from Northern triangle countries, which generally comprise 55%-65% of flights, absent unusual events like disasters in Haiti, have been falling on an absolute and relative basis. They fell 25,152 from June to December, while encounters of Cubans and Nicaraguans, who are not amenable to Title 42 expulsions or removals by air, increased by 50,654. This is precisely why in January Title 42 expanded to include Nicaraguans, Cubans, and Haitians.  

In addition to the removal flights listed above, there was also 1 flight to each of Haiti, Brazil, Peru, Jamaica, Gambia, and Liberia. It should be noted that 2 of the removal flights relate to one route with small jets that included Gambia and Liberia.



ICE Air flights to Guatemala remained at 22 in January, close to the prior 3-month average, and below the 29 and 46 flights in August and July, respectively. This reasonably consistent recent pace is in line with a consistent pace of diministing encounters the last few months between 14,842 and 14,520, after reaching a 15-month high of 24,648 in July.

Since June, encounters of Guatemalans fell from 24,648 to 14,796 in November, as flights decreased by 22 from 44 in June to 22 in January. Based on reports by Guatemala Migration through January 27 of per plane returns, the US returned about 230 (10%) fewer people by air in January at 2,200.



To Honduras, flights decreased from 22 (December) to 16 (January), which is 5 below the prior 6-month average and 11 below January 2022. Since June, encounters of Hondurans by US authorities at the southern border fell from 24,177 to 13,168; flights have decreased from 39 in June to 16 in January.

In January, estimated returns by ICE Air to Honduras of 1,600 represented 12% of December encounters and 25% of those subjected to T42, quite similar to Guatemala.



Ice Air Flights to Ecuador increased significantly again from 13 in December to 20 in January.  The increase is no doubt related to encounters increasing for five consecutive months from 2,948 in July to 16,197 in December. During that same time, those subjected to T42 increased from 114 in July to 1,245 in December, leading to expulsion rates of 4% and 8%, for July and December, respectively. 



ICE Air Flights to Colombia decreased for the 5th consecutive month from the 3-year high of 23 in August 2022 to 9 in January. In the last 4 months, encounters increased from 13,807 to 17,431, while expulsions decreased from 1,675 to 982, resulting in expulsion rates halved from 12% to 6%. 


El Salvador

Flights to El Salvador decreased slightly to 6 in January from 10 in December. 


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:


Flights remained at 1 in January after dropping from 4 in November to 1 in December because of the unrest in Peru. There was only one flight to Peru in January, as there was in December. But encounters of Peruvians at the border are increasing, so that number is likely to rise. Between July and November 2022, encounters of Peruvians ranged between 7,216 and 8,529, but in December they jumped to 11,359.  It won’t be surprising to see the removal flights return to the November 2022 level of one flight per week.

Peru does not accept T42 flights, based on a November 10th court declaration. 



There was a flight of reportedly 26 deportees/removals on December 13 and one more flight on January 31. The last flight had been on September 6.  For the fifth month in a row, in December CBP encounters of Haitians between southern ports-of-entry was below 200 at only 31; there were 5,107 at the ports-of-entry. For the seventh month in a row, it has been shown that people are given a chance to make a case for asylum at a port-of-entry, they will choose to do that rather than enter without documentation between ports. There were only two Haitians subjected to T42 in December.


Small Jet Removals

Observations included one flight on a Gryphon Air Gulfstream that carries 10-12 passengers as a maximum. Deportations on this route included Ghana and Liberia.


Other destinations for ICE Air flights this month were:

Dominican Republic (2)

Nicaragua (2)

Jamaica (1)

Brazil (1)


Mexico Operated Removal

Mexico changed to Magnicharters from VivaAerobus, and because of the change there was a 3-week pause on deportation flights.

The number of flights decreased from 32 in December to 11 in January, the lowest level since October 2022 at 10. Flights to all countries decreased with Guatemala down 8 (11 to 3), Honduras down 6 (8 to 2), Ecuador down 1 (3 to 1), El Salvador down 1 (2 to 1), Nicaragua down 3 (4 to 1) and Cuba down 1 (4 to 3). Cuba: Deportation flights were widely reported to be approved by Cuba now. However, it does not seem that T42 flights have been approved. 


Departure cities for removal flights include Mexico City (4), Tapachula (2), Saltillo (2), Villahermosa (1), and San Luis Potosi (1).

Sources: Witness At the Border, 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. 


Mexico deports Guatemalan kids from near US border

[This is a summary of an article published in La Prensa Latina, La Prensa Latina Bilingual Media on February 7, 2023]

Mexico deported 91 minors to Guatemala on February 7. Twenty-eight of those minors were found on Jan. 27 inside a container in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez as they were being transported to the US. Among the minors returned to Guatemala were 64 boys and 22 girls between the ages of 8 and 17 who were traveling alone, along with five others who were traveling with a relative. 

During January, Guatemala received 617 minors deported from other nations; the US returned 269 and Mexico returned 348. 

Source: La Prensa Latina Bilingual Media

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

Sign up for the weekly Border Update from WOLA.


New Mexico Seeks to End ICE Contracts 

Attorneys, former inmates and the federal government alike have denounced the Torrance County Detention Facility (Estancia, New Mexico) for much of last year. When federal officials conducted a surprise inspection in February 2022, they issued a first-of-its-kind “management alert,” saying conditions were so bad that everyone inside should be immediately removed. Calls for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release or relocate detainees increased after an asylum-seeking migrant committed suicide in August.

In January 2023, New Mexico state legislators introduced a bill that would prohibit local governments and state agencies from entering into future contracts with ICE and private detention facilities to detain immigrants in civil cases.

The bill could unwind contractual arrangements at the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, operated by Utah-based Management & Training Corporation on behalf of ICE.  The Otero County facility typically holds about 600 male and female migrants seeking asylum or legal status in this country.

U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján last year urged the federal government to terminate its contract with CoreCivic at the Torrance County Detention Facility. This state bill would not, however, directly compel changes at Torrance County Detention Facility or the Cibola County Correctional Center in Cibola. Each hold about 100 migrant detainees. Both are owned and operated by Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic, a for-profit prison corporation.

“We’re hoping that by demonstrating at the state level that New Mexico does not want ICE detention in our state, that helps at the federal level get rid of these contracts,” said Sophia Genovese, an attorney at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center. Genovese said it’s likely that the bill will pass due to the Democratic majority in the state legislature, as well as community support.



Ohio Return from Deportation Working Group + New Resource Guide for Newcomers to NE Ohio 

Ohio Immigrant Alliance has been convening a Return from Deportation Working Group for the past few months and is already showing success.

The group’s efforts helped to secure the return of Mauricio Hernandez Mata and Leonel Contreras; both came home after deportation and are now US citizens. And Gideon Baena who is finally home after a 20-year exile.

For migrants, immigrants and refugees in NE Ohio, Global Cleveland has released  a new  57-page guide to newcomers adjusting to life here. It includes helpful information about topics like housing, jobs, and government services, and also walks people through the process of becoming a United States citizen.

 Those wishing to access the new guide can do so by logging on to The organization says consolidated versions in other languages will be available later this year.



Ohio Sues over Biden’s New Humanitarian Parole Program

On January 24, 2023, Texas and the American First Legal group led a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The lawsuit states that the White House's recently announced humanitarian parole program for migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela is illegal because it circumvented Congress. They claim that the Biden Administration has effectively created a new visa program without the consent of Congress. Nineteen other states joined the lawsuit, including Ohio.

Texas has filed more than 20 lawsuits in federal court against the Biden administration, many of them targeting the president’s immigration policies. A majority of the lawsuits have been filed in courtrooms overseen by Trump-appointed judges.

Sources: Washington Examiner, Texas Tribune



CBP Migrant Deaths Report: Yearly number of migrants found dead reached a new high in 2022

In 2021, the remains of 568 migrants were found, setting a new record 

Earlier this month, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) released a new report, giving insight into the number of migrant deaths that have been documented by the border agency at the southern U.S. border. CBP is required by law to release a detailed report on migrant deaths every year, however their report for the fiscal year of 2021 has just been released, and the report for 2022 is still pending. So far, we only know the total number of migrant remains recovered last year, without any further classifications.

Nevertheless, the recently published report gives us an idea of just how bad the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border has been over the past years and where the trends are headed. Here is what we learn from the report:

New high in yearly number of migrant deaths

According to the CBP report, in 2021 the remains of 568 migrants were found, setting a new record at the time. For FY22, CBS News reported a number of 853 migrant deaths, which would set an even higher record, and significantly bypass the average number of annual migrant deaths from the last 25 years, which lies somewhere between 300-400.

While the CBP report is the only one covering the entire border zone, regional organizations tracking migrant deaths such as in Arizona often find much higher numbers of migrant remains than CBP does in those regions, thus the numbers should be seen as a minimum count of migrant deaths during that year.


In FY21, the vast majority of migrants that were found dead were Mexican, followed by Guatemalan and Honduran nationals. There is also a large number of migrant remains that could not be assigned a nationality.

Over the 5-year period 2017-2021, a total of 1,701 migrant deaths were reported. Of those, nationality was determined for 1,121 migrants: 

72% were Mexican

9% Guatemalan

7% Honduran

5% El Salvadorans

3% were from Ecuador, and 4% were from 12 other countries

Location of remains

Out of the 568 migrant deaths reported in 2021, the list of locations where the remains were recovered is led by all sectors in the state of Texas, with the deadliest sector being the Rio Grande Valley. 

Between 2017-2021, 27% of the remains of migrants were recovered in the Rio Grande Valley sector in south Texas. With the exception of 2019, where the list was led by the adjacent sector of Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley has been the sector of most migrant deaths reported. Many people die tens of miles north of the border, trying to avoid a Border Patrol checkpoint in Brooks County.

Cause of death

From 2017-2021, out of the 1,454 migrants for whom the cause of death could be determined:

45% died of environmental exposure, of which 41% percent was due to heat, and 4% due to cold

23% experienced “water-related” deaths

5% died of motor vehicle-related deaths

8 migrant deaths were train-related


Of the 1,189 migrant deaths that were reported between 2017-2021, whose gender could be determined, only 15% were female migrants and 85% were male (It should be noted that overall, there are more male migrants crossing the southern U.S. border, particularly single adults). In the years prior to 2021, the percentage of male migrants that were found dead was even higher.


Of the 902 migrants between 2017-2021 whose age could be determined:

32% were between 26-35 years old

30% were 18-25 years old

11% were 46 years and older

4% were younger than 17

CBP-involved deaths

Along with the migrant deaths report, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) released an annual report earlier this month on “CBP-involved deaths” in 2021. The report mentions 55 in-custody deaths, 53 reportable CBP-involved deaths, as well as 43 additional deaths that were requested to be reviewed by OPR.

Source: WOLA



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.

1- Speak Out Against Asylum Ban

The Biden administration recently announced that it will expand Title 42 for Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Cuban nationals. A similar decision regarding Venezuelan asylum-seekers has been disastrous. Remind Congress and the White House that now is the time to end Title 42, not expand it. 


2- Immigrants are Welcome

This program allows up to 30,000 people a month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba to apply to live and work in the United States for up to two years. For those who are eligible, it eliminates the harrowing journey to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum and, under Title 42, is the only option that many have to seek safety. 

 We urge you to call or email your governor and attorney general to let them know that you support policies that welcome migrants. Click here to find your governor's contact info, and here to find your attorney general. Below is a script that you can use. Please forward this email to your friends and family. 


Thank you for reading IRTF’s Migrant Justice Newsletter!

Click here to read newsletters from previous months



Tuesday, February 28, 2023