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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. 



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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

Park ranger Adonias Cruz, part of a team monitoring illegal oil palm crops in Honduras, faced a death threat at his home. The dangerous nature of their work stems from groups involved in palm oil exploitation and drug trafficking. Palm oil, a lucrative export for Honduras, poses environmental risks, threatening biodiversity and water quality. The cultivation boom, fueled by financial incentives, has also led to illegal plantations, impacting national parks. Drug traffickers invest in oil palm to legitimize income, control territory, and exploit government incentives. Environmental activists, combating illegal plantations, face deadly consequences, with Honduras being the deadliest country for them. Despite efforts, including the establishment of the Green Battalion, logistical challenges and corruption hinder effective protection against illegal oil palm activities.

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In 2022, Guatemala faced turmoil at the University of San Carlos following the contested election of Walter Mazariegos as the new rector. Bernardo Arevalo, initially a little-known figure, gained international attention after becoming Guatemala's president-elect. However, prosecutors have sought to strip him and his running mate, Karin Herrera, of political immunity for supporting student protests. The move is viewed by critics as an attempt to undermine Arevalo's presidency, adding to previous legal actions against him. The investigation into the university occupation has raised concerns about free speech suppression, with Arevalo's vocal support for the protests becoming a focal point. The attempt to lift his immunity is seen as a potential threat to Guatemala's democratic stability, drawing international criticism, particularly from the United States. The outcome could impact regional stability and collaboration on issues like transnational crime.

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Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is a facet of international law enabling private corporations to sue governments impeding their profits. This mechanism, embedded in bilateral investment treaties (BITs), often favors wealthy states, compelling less powerful nations to accept ISDS provisions for market access. ISDS allows corporations to challenge governmental actions, even those addressing public health or environmental concerns. The dystopian nature of ISDS is exemplified in the case of Honduras Próspera, a US company attempting to establish a libertarian enclave in Honduras. Despite the Honduran government's efforts to repeal laws facilitating this project, Honduras Próspera initiated an $11 billion ISDS case. Progressive International launched a campaign, denouncing this as 'corporate colonialism' and highlighting the broader threat to global South nations challenging corporate influence through democratic means. The situation underscores the ongoing struggle against neoliberalism and neocolonialism, emphasizing the importance of international solidarity to secure economic and political rights.

News Article

International organizations strongly condemn the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor's Office for criminalizing political opposition, academics, journalists, and human rights defenders in the "Takeover of the USAC: political booty" case. This abuse of power aims to prevent the inauguration of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and others on January 14, 2024. Raids and arrests targeting 27 individuals, including human rights advocates and academics, occurred in connection with their peaceful resistance against election anomalies at the University of San Carlos de Guatemala in 2022. The Public Prosecutor's Office plans to pursue pre-trial proceedings against elected officials, deepening a strategy of unjust criminalization. International bodies, including the OAS and IACHR, express grave concern and call on Guatemala to respect election results and cease actions threatening constitutional order and judicial independence. They emphasize the need for international oversight to prevent further abuses and signal that authoritarian manipulation of laws will not be tolerated on the global stage.