Migrant Justice Newsletter And Urgent Actions - September 2022
As Fiscal Year 2022 is almost over, we are hearing numbers of 750 or more migrant deaths over the past twelve months. While, tragically, it does still happen that migrants die while being chased by Border Patrol agents or shot when attempting to cross the border, the majority of these deaths are a result of the so-called “prevention through deterrence” strategy that forces people to take on more dangerous routes when traveling up to the southern U.S. border to seek safety. And if they do make it through to the U.S., they are often expelled immediately or put into deportation proceedings, waiting for their hearing in Mexican emergency shelters or U.S. detention centers.
Here is an overview of recent updates on U.S. immigration and what has been happening at the border!
In this newsletter, please read about
- Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH: Venezuelans Rank #1 in Deportation Proceedings Filed
- The Borderlands Are Not Made for Crossing: Remembering Those Who Have Died on Their Journey
- Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures: Expulsion Flights Show No Signs of Stopping
- At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border
-Ohio Airline Supplied Flights for DeSantis’ Flight of 50 Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard
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- Tell Ohio airline to stop shipping migrants to other destinations
2- Title 42: urge Congress to NOT block the end of Title 42
3- Stop Funding ICE
Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH: Venezuelans Rank #1 in Deportation Proceedings Filed
Ohio ranks #19 nationally in the number of deportation proceedings filed. Ohio ranks #9 nationally 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. In Fiscal Year 2021 (October 2020 through September 2021), the US government filed about 3,100 cases for removal of immigrants in the Cleveland EOIR. Now, in Fiscal Year 2022 (since October 2021) there have already been 11,202 cases filed. This is consistent with the numbers of cases rising nationally. Currently, Ohio ranks #19 nationally in the number of deportation proceedings filed. But when it comes to the number of people ordered deported, Ohio ranks #9 nationwide; there are only 8 states in the country that have ordered more deportations this fiscal year than Ohio. These are the recent numbers from TRAC (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, based at Syracuse University).
Deportation Proceedings Filed Are Still Going Up
Within the last ten months, since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2022 (on Oct 1, 2021), there have been 748,915 deportation proceedings filed in immigration courts across the country.In August alone, 96,665 cases were added. During the previous 12-month period (FY21), just over 308,000 cases had been filed. Comparing these numbers (748,915 v 308,000), we learn that the number of deportation proceedings filed over all of last fiscal year has already been more than doubled during this current fiscal year (228% increase).
Also notable is a decrease in the number of cases filed against Cubans over the month of August (103,573) from July (88,145). In Cleveland, that number is not too significant (122 last month), but nationwide Cuba has still risen to #1 in the number of deportation proceedings filed by nationality. So why the big increase in Cubans being placed into deportation proceedings? Since Cuba does not accept Title 42 expulsion flights from the US, we can assume that as more Cubans are crossing the border, more are being placed into deportation proceedings (likely detained). (Question: why are so many more Cubans coming to the US?)
Cleveland EOIR - Deportation Proceedings Filed
Out of the 803,922 deportation proceedings filed nationwide, 11,282 have been filed at the immigration court in Cleveland through August, putting Ohio in 19th place of the most cases filed by state throughout the country. This is more than three times the number of deportation proceedings filed last FY. Most of the deportation proceedings filed in August in Cleveland have been for Guatemalans, Venezuelans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans.
This consistent and accelerated increase in the number of cases filed should be alarming to us, as it directly suggests that the government is continuing to increase immigration law enforcement measures against undocumented residents. And we can only assume that the expansion of digital surveillance and increased enrollment in the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program are an immediate cause of these trends.
New deportation proceedings filed (Oct 2021 - Aug 2022)
Deportations Ordered from Cleveland EOIR: 35% are Guatemalan, 22% Honduran
Besides the almost 11,000+ new deportation proceedings filed since October 2021, there were 350 new deportations ordered from the Cleveland immigration court in August 2022. This increases the total number of people ordered deported from Cleveland to 2,652 in FY22, of which 934 are Guatemalans and 581 are Hondurans. Thinking about what we hear in the news every week about violence, insecurity and repression in these (and others) countries, it is saddening to think about the large group of Central Americans who are being sent back to those inhospitable conditions after having given up so much to take on the dangerous journey north in search of refuge.
Deportations Ordered for Minors from Cleveland EOIR
Children ordered deported (Cleveland EOIR Juvenile Court docket) were 175 for the month of August, 14 more compared to July . Most of the children being ordered deported are from Guatemala (93). Others are Honduran (65), Salvadorans (8), Mexicans (6), and Chinese (2).
Source: TRAC at Syracuse University (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse)
The Borderlands Are Not Made for Crossing: Remembering Those Who Have Died on Their Journey
Earlier this month, at least 8 migrants died crossing the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass in Texas, and dozens more were rescued and captured by U.S. Border Patrol and Mexican officials. While this is one of the largest mass drownings along the border in years, it is certainly not the first time migrants have drowned while trying to cross the border along the river. The Rio Grande is a dangerous route to take, as high water levels and sudden strong currents can be challenging even for experienced swimmers, let alone travelers who are bearing their children and belongings on their backs and already have an exhausting journey of more than 1,000 miles and weeks or even months of walking behind them. Many miles further west, along the California coast, migrants are put into small, overloaded boats without life-vests to go around the border wall that continues from the coast a couple hundred yards into the water and come back ashore miles further north. On their way, the boats easily flip over, and dozens of people die helplessly in the water, too far out to swim to safety.
At the same time as migrants are drowning, trying to navigate the dangerous waters of the Rio Grande or the Pacific Ocean along the U.S.-Mexico border, many more experience death through lack of water and hydration as they pass through the remote and inhospitable terrains of the Sonoran Desert. They must cross vast mountain ranges, navigate their way through the never-ending plains of the desert without a clear sense of direction and, in most cases, with no or little water supplies.
Since 1998, more than 8,000 migrant deaths have been reported along the border, with an average of 364 deaths every year in that time. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has reported 750 migrant deaths (that we know of) since October 1, 2021, a new record high compared to the 557 deaths at the southern border in FY21. Surely, the actual number of people who have died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is far higher, as many of these deaths occur in such remote and inaccessible areas that their bodies are never found.
We mostly hear of the human-made dangers along the U.S.-Mexico border, such as smugglers, gangs, the paramilitary and enforcement agencies, but also the aerial surveillance and enforcement through the digital and physical border wall, that are causing many harmful experiences and even deaths. But what we sometimes forget is that these enforcement measures are not only causing direct harm. This expansion of digital and physical enforcement along the border is part of the U.S.-government’s “prevention through deterrence” strategy, which is supposed to make crossing the border without being caught such an impossible task that migrants will stop trying to enter the United States.
But for most who have decided to leave behind their home and family and flee their country to travel up north, the life-threatening dangers at home are so immense that it still seems safer to take on the dangerous, almost hopeless journey northwards because staying put is simply not an option.
As a result, migrants are forced to take on more remote and dangerous routes (e.g. through the Sonoran Desert) when attempting to cross the border in order to avoid the expanding network of Border Patrol enforcement and digital surveillance in the borderlands. With the effects of climate change, these extreme habitats such as the desert and the Rio Grande have become even more dangerous and inhospitable.
As the United States’ immigration policies such as the Migrant Protection Protocols—forcing asylum seekers to await their hearings in emergency shelters in the dangerous border towns of Northern Mexico—and increased digital surveillance such as drones and heat sensors along the border wall and across the desert are being expanded, the U.S. is turning its southern border into a graveyard and the site of a human rights crisis instead of preventing migration. We should ask ourselves–and our policymakers–how effective this “prevention through deterrence” really is.
Perhaps the U.S.-Mexico border would be a safer place and a more controlled migration pathway if these policies and the border wall (physical and digital) didn’t exist at all. They are causing an increasing number of deaths every year by leading migrants through the dangers of desert borderlands. Until the United States’ handling of immigration and “border control” changes and the number of unnecessary but tragic deaths at the border decreases, we will remember those who have died crossing as they may be lost, but not forgotten.
Sources: ABC News, Immigration Forum, Missing Migrants Project, Amnesty International
Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures; Expulsion Flights Show No Signs of Stopping
The end of the anti-immigrant policy Title 42, a public health proclamation first implemented by the previous president in early 2020, is still up in the air. And the number of observed removal flights to ten different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean continues to rise. Since the Biden inauguration in January 2021, there have been over 11,000 ICE Air flights. To be exact, there have been 11,011 over the last 18 months, including almost 2,021 removal flights. With an estimated average of 100 passengers per flight, this means that over the past one and a half years, as many as 202,100 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.
The total numbers of migrants expelled under Title 42 are much higher than the 190,000 on removal flights (according to Customs and Border Patrol, 1.7 million since Biden came into office). Most migrants are immediately expelled (without processing) back across the Mexican border by land. According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), 37% of migrants “encountered” (i.e., apprehended) at the US southern border in August were immediately expelled–denied their legal right to petition for asylum–back into Mexico. Of all the migrants expelled last month, 99% came from four countries: Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras.
Removal Flights, Lateral Flights, Domestic Shuffles:
In August 2022, there were 617 ICE Air flights, operated by the charter carriers iAero/Swift, World Atlantic, GlobalX, Eastern Air, and OMNI. This number is higher than July’s numbers by 69 flights.
Removal flights, meaning flights transporting people internationally and returning them to their home countries, are the same in August as they were in July(140) , while domestic shuffle flights increased by 81 in August.
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. They made up almost 55% of all removal flights in August 2022.
ICE Air flights to Guatemala decreased by 17 for a total of 29 in August. This is the smallest number of ICE Air flights to Guatemala since April of 2022 when there were 27 removal flights. In the last 12 months, there have been 416 removal flights to Guatemala ((26% of the total). Here are the August numbers: 232 in August 2021; 276 in August 2022.
To Honduras, flights decreased slightly from 36 (July) to 32 (August), still ranked as the second highest since January 2020. In the last 12 months, there have been 339 removal flights to Honduras (21% of the total). Here are the August numbers: 190 in August 2021; 263 in August 2022.
Flights to El Salvador increased from 30 (July) to 32 (August), ranking third highest in removal destination cities. In the last 12 months, there have been 185 removal flights to El Salvador (11% of the total). Here are the August numbers: 95 in August 2021; 140 in August 2022.
Colombia: 23 removal flights to Colombia in August, up 4 from the previous month.
Haiti: 3 flights to Haiti in August; a significant decrease since May (36). This suggests a significant drop in Haitian encounters and resulting Title 42 expulsions from the US southern border.
Brazil: 10 in August, which is up from the 3 flights in July .
Other destinations for ICE Air flights this month were:
Dominican Republic (2)
Peru (2) - removal flights for the first time in the last 12 months
Sources: Witness At the Border
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.
August 16, border-wide: “Family members are still being separated under some circumstances” at the border during the Biden administration, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, “including if a parent has a criminal history, has health issues, or is being criminally prosecuted.” A DHS report to Congress counted 227 family separations in 2021.
Early August, Tucson: “In the past 2 weeks, Kino has served 16 people that DHS has deported between 12 am and 3 am,” the Nogales, Arizona-based Kino Border Initiative (KBI) reported on August 18. “Julia [name changed to protect privacy] and her 7 year old daughter fled Guerrero [Mexico] due to threats of sexual violence toward herself and her daughter. When they crossed into the US, Border Patrol detained them and Julia explained she wanted to seek asylum due to violence in Mexico. But Border Patrol just took their bio information, without asking further inquiring about their fear, and deported them to Mexico at 3 a.m., placing Julia and her daughter in danger of potentially experiencing the very sexual violence they were fleeing.”
Source: WOLA Border Oversight
Want to find out more about the conditions at the southern US border?
Ohio Airline Supplied Flights for DeSantis’ flight of 50 Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard
It was a usual Wednesday in Martha’s Vineyard when the news hit: without any notice, two planes had landed carrying 50 migrants not knowing where they were. In an interview later that day, the migrants said a woman they identified as "Perla" approached them outside their shelter in Texas and lured them into boarding a plane, saying they would be flown to Boston where they could get expedited work papers and secure housing. That was not the case. Many of the mostly Venezuelan refugees, seeking safety and a better life, had crossed the border only weeks to even days prior to their transportation to Martha’s Vineyard. Since their arrival, local organizations and community members have been providing for them around the clock. Churches and homeless shelters took them in, neighbors brought fresh food, and high school students came in to translate. The overwhelmed Emergency Management Association stated that they were “grateful to the many local and neighboring community members with offers of support.”
The initiator of this inhumane political stunt, Governor Ron DeSantis, is known for his racist straight edge position when it comes to immigration. His legislation has allocated $12 Million “to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens out of Florida.” DeSantis stated that “We are going to spend every last penny of that.”
On September 20, human rights agencies, led by Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the 50 migrants believing them to be victim of fraud and kidnapping which could be classified as human trafficking. Should the lawsuit be successful, it would automatically qualify them for a special visa to protect them from human trafficking.
Despite the investigation, DeSantis stated that “It is a humane thing to do.” Support for his actions came from the governors of Texas and Arizona, who are also known for transporting refugees to northern states.
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:
URGENT Take Action
1- Tell Ohio airline to stop shipping migrants to other destinations
2- Title 42: urge Congress to NOT block the end of Title 42
3- Stop Funding ICE
The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that Ultimate Jet Charters, a local company, played an instrumental role in a depraved political stunt by Florida Gov. DeSantis. The charter airline flew dozens of people seeking asylum to Martha's Vineyard and left them there, stranded. In this video, lawyer Rachel Self talks about the ways people were tricked by Gov. DeSantis, DHS, and now an Ohio company.
Ultimate Jet Charters facilitated a depraved political stunt for a Republican governor, which amounts to large-scale human trafficking. The passengers were people seeking asylum in the U.S. because they face extortion, gang violence, kidnapping, and murder in their native countries. They were tricked into getting on the plane, told lies, and had no idea what was happening.
We will not stand for this. Call and email Ultimate Jet Charters' leadership TODAY. Tell them you are outraged at their company's role in this cruel political stunt. Demand that they denounce their participation and ensure it never happens again.
The Governors of Florida and Texas, among other Republicans, continue to deny the dignity of migrants and use them as political pawns. Their actions are despicable, and Ultimate Jet Charters cannot get away with facilitating this.
Contact Ultimate Jet Charters' Leadership
Stephen West, CEO
330-497-3344 / email@example.com
Scott Miller, Executive Vice President of Sales
330-433-2144 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Woxie Lyday, Executive Vice President of Operations
330-433-2125 / email@example.com
Chris Wank, Executive Vice President of Operations
330-433-2113 / firstname.lastname@example.org
When you're done, don't forget to leave them a 1-star review on Yelp and Google!
Everyone deserves to live in safety and peace. But for the past two years, a federal policy known as Title 42 has blocked migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum, a human right. Now some members of Congress are attempting to indefinitely extend Title 42 rather than taking action to ensure that our policies heal not harm. They must hear from us today. Tell Congress to defend the right to asylum!
All people should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of where they are from. Yet every year, the federal government funnels billions of taxpayer dollars into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to jail, abuse, and deport immigrants. Tell your legislators: Stop funding cruelty against immigrants—and invest in our communities!
Thank you for reading IRTF’s Migrant Justice Newsletter!