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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates

News Article

In this monthly newsletter, we include the fiscal year-end numbers from Customs and Border Patrol. CBP reports 2,475,669 “encounters” of migrants at the US-Mexico border from OCT 2022-SEP 2023. That’s up about 100,000 from last fiscal year. 

Let’s be clear. There is no “border crisis.” But there is a humanitarian crisis at the border.

The numbers don’t justify any increased funding for CBP. Federal agents are not having to chase down tens of thousands of migrants along the river bank or into the desert along the 2,000 mile border. A large portion of the “encountered” migrants (roughly 30,000 per month) have actually turned themselves in voluntarily at ports-of-entry to request political asylum. Presenting themselves at ports of entry (i.e., the “legal” way to cross) are these nationalities in this order: Haiti, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru.

But the waiting time to schedule an appointment at the border crossing (via the CBP One app) and then waiting for the actual appointment—this is causing tens of thousands of migrants to seek humanitarian assistance on the Mexico side of the border as they sit it out and wait.

As burdensome as the asylum process is, a group of US senators is trying to make it worse. They are threatening to stall any supplemental budget request that Biden is submitting for the war in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, and the US-Mexico border. They say that won’t approve any Biden request unless it contains new border restrictions, including: more detention, family and child detention, restrictions on humanitarian parole, and banning the right to asylum for migrants who do not present themselves at ports-of-entry (note: this is clearly an illegal provision that violates both domestic and international asylum law.). 

See the Take Action items listed at the bottom of this newsletter. Our advocacy is needed to maintain some modicum of humanity in the nation’s immigration system and to address root causes of migration. 



Please consider supporting IRTF’s Migrant Justice work.

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News Article

Welcome to the vibrant celebration of human rights at the IRTF's 43rd Annual Commemoration Program, Fiesta De Derechos Humanos! As we gather to honor and reflect on the enduring pursuit of justice, this program book serves as a testament to the diverse voices advocating for human rights around the globe. Join us in commemorating the progress made and acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead in our collective journey towards a more just and equitable world. Through engaging narratives, powerful testimonials, and inspiring perspectives, Fiesta De Derechos Humanos encapsulates the essence of our shared commitment to fostering a world where human rights flourish for all.

To view the entire program book visit:

News Article

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, along with the Latin American Working Group and the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, has expressed solidarity with the people of Guatemala, particularly Indigenous communities, who are fighting for democracy, human rights, and accountability. They condemn the Guatemalan government's attempts to overturn the August 20, 2023 elections and prevent President-Elect Bernardo Arévalo from taking office. The government's tactics include intimidation, threats, and legal actions against election workers and the winning party, Movimiento Semilla. The international community recognizes Arévalo's landslide victory. The protesters, including Indigenous authorities, human rights activists, women's groups, and religious leaders, demand the resignation of corrupt officials and the protection of their constitutional right to peaceful protest. The article calls on the United States to impose sanctions on the guilty officials and urges the Guatemalan government to respect the election results and ensure a peaceful transition of power. The solidarity statement expresses support for the courageous people of Guatemala in their struggle for democracy and the rule of law.

News Article

On behalf of IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) members, we wrote six letters this month to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries.  We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, (3) bring human rights criminals to justice.


Volunteers with the Rapid Response Network (RRN)—together with IRTF staff—write letters in response to six urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see , or ask us to mail you hard copies.

News Article

You can read this monthly newsletter at

When we hear about the Border Patrol apprehending people along the southern border, we tend to imagine people from Mexico or Central America. But the national origins of migrants are much more varied, and the Border Patrol isn’t exactly “apprehending” as many people because most are turning themselves in at ports-of-entry.

In this month’s newsletter, we report that 100% of Haitians encountered by the Border Patrol affirmatively presented themselves at ports-of-entry, as did 88% of Cubans and 96% of Russians. Although Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reporting increases in the number of migrants it “encounters,” (an 82% increase from June to July; a 36% increase from July to  August), the numbers of migrants encountered by CBP are still well below the numbers from 2022.

Mexican nationals still top the numbers of encounters by CBP. But current trends indicate that Venezuelans might soon push them out of that number one spot.

To slow the migration of Venezuelans to the US, the Biden administration is taking some new steps. One: Biden signed an agreement with President Maduro to lift some of the economic sanctions on Venezuela and, in reciprocity, Maduro agreed to start accepting deportation flights of Venezuelans. Two: Biden announced in September that it will allow Venezuelans who entered the U.S. on or before July 31 to receive temporary protected status, allowing them to apply for a work visa and deferred deportation for 18 months. Three: Biden plans to spend $10 million in foreign aid to help Panama deport more migrants who do not qualify for asylum protections. Four: In June, the US opened two Safe Mobility Offices in Colombia (as it has in Costa Rica and Guatemala) to consider nationals from Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela for humanitarian protection or other legal pathways. Five: The US had made deals with Panama and Mexico to begin deporting citizens of Venezuela from their countries.

Since Venezuelans can no longer get visas to fly to places like Mexico, many are been voyaging through the deadly jungles of the Darién Gap that lies between Colombia and Panama. According to the government of Panamá, 334,000 migrants have made the trek since January; 60% have been Venezuelan. The $10 million Biden is offering to Panama (see above) is intended to push US border enforcement south from the US-Mexico border to the Panama-Colombia border.

Migration justice advocates continue to call for addressing structural issues in Latin America that are pushing emigration. Many of those issues are caused by, or exacerbated by, US policies (e.g., militarization of security forces, economic sanctions, mineral extraction, support for non-democratic regimes). Unless people see hope of real change and can envision raising their families in safe environments at home, migration will continue. But the US continues to respond with militarized borders, criminalization of migration, mass incarceration, and deportation.


DONATE: Please consider supporting IRTF’s Migrant Justice work. Click HERE to donate. Thank you.


Welcome to IRTF’s October 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 few minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom.

News Article

In Guatemala, widespread protests have erupted against corruption and impunity within the government. Demonstrators demand the resignation of corrupt officials, including Attorney General Consuelo Porras, and express frustration over a history of oppressive systems. Indigenous leaders and various sectors of society have joined an indefinite national strike since October 2nd, seeking dialogue with the government. Despite attempts at peaceful resolution, the government responded with repression, deploying police and military forces. President Giammattei's lack of political will to address corruption led to continued protests. Paramilitary groups and drug traffickers threatened protesters, intensifying the situation. President-elect Bernardo Arévalo sought support from the U.S., but the long-term interests of both countries differ. The unity of the Guatemalan people, including those in the diaspora, remained strong. Peaceful protests at the Public Ministry persisted despite government attempts to disperse them. The demonstrations, spanning various sectors and communities, echoed the historic resistance of Indigenous Peoples, marking a collective demand for democracy, the right to protest, and an end to corruption and impunity in Guatemala.

News Article

Indigenous-led protests in Guatemala City continue for the third week, demanding the resignation of the attorney general and judicial officials accused of undermining democracy. Indigenous authorities have initiated blockades nationwide, fearing efforts to prevent President-elect Bernardo Arévalo from taking office. Despite facing threats and attacks, the demonstrations are marked by resilience and solidarity, featuring music, art, and community support. Protesters vow to stay until officials resign, emphasizing the importance of democracy in their struggle against government corruption and oppression.

News Article

Guatemalan Interior Minister Napoleón Barrientos resigned amid ongoing pro-democracy protests and disagreements within President Alejandro Giammattei's administration on handling roadblocks. Barrientos, favoring dialogue with protesters, stepped down after a shooting near a roadblock. Attorney General Consuelo Porras, demanding immediate blockades removal, had called for Barrientos' dismissal. The unidentified shooters prompted condemnation from Barrientos' ministry. Indigenous groups, protesting alleged interference in elections, vow to maintain roadblocks until Porras and prosecutors resign. The government appointed a replacement, emphasizing adherence to the rule of law. Barrientos' resignation reflects administration weakness amid civil unrest.