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Migrant Justice Newsletter: JULY 2023

Welcome to IRTF’s July 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.

The articles in this email version are abbreviated. To read the full articles, see the newsletter at .


In this newsletter, please read about

  1. Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH
  2. ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends
  3. The Human Costs of the Asylum Ban
  4. At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border 
  5. Darién Gap: Tourism Booms while Migrants Suffer
  6. Texas Deploys Floating Buoys in the Rio Grande



Here is what you can do to take action this week and act in solidarity with migrants and their families. (See details at the bottom of this newsletter.)

A) Tell Biden to Cut Immigration Enforcement and Detention, and Instead Fund REAL Human Needs

B) Tell your senators to oppose the Supplemental Border Funding Bill

C) Tell your congressperson to vote no on the House Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

D) Tell Congress to reject new bills that deny access to asylum at the southern border

E) Sign up for the Biden Deportations Tracker

F) Urge Congress to Pass the Afghan Adjustment Act



1- Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH

Ohio ranks #14 in filing deportation proceedings (out of 31 states that have immigration courts). 

Ohio ranks #11 in ordering deportations.

The activity in the EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review) in Cleveland (the only US immigration court in Ohio) pushed Ohio higher in the national rankings. In May, Ohio ranked #18 in filing deportations (now up to 14th place in June). In May, Ohio ranked #17 in ordering deportations (now up to 11th place in June).

Nationally, there was a slowdown in deportation proceedings filed in June: 116,120 (compared to 145,878 in May). In Cleveland, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filed 2,540 new deportation proceedings—a 28% drop from the May numbers. Notable is that Central Americans no longer top the nationalities of new deportations filed. In the Cleveland EOIR, these are the top 5 nationalities: 1) Mauritania (538 new deportation proceedings filed), 2) Venezuela (450), 3) Mexico (278), 4) Colombia (209), and 5) Guatemala (195). 

Last month we reported that in May there were 888 new deportation proceedings filed in Cleveland against people from Uzbekistan. The numbers are still high in June: 144—but this is fewer than proceedings filed against other nationalities (namely Haitians, Hondurans, and the Top 5 listed above).

Nationally, the top spots are held by Venezuelans, Mexicans, and Colombians. 


In April, 2,261 new deportation proceedings were filed.

In May, 3,489 new deportation proceedings were filed.

In June, 2,540 new deportation proceedings were filed.



511 ordered in June 2023 (4,021 to date this fiscal year).

Top nationalities of deportations ordered from Cleveland: 1) Guatemalans (915), Hondurans (676), Nicaraguans (530), and Mexicans (453).



In June 2023, the Cleveland EOIR Juvenile Court Docket issued these deportation orders: Guatemalans (8), Hondurans (8), Salvadorans (0), Nicaraguans (1), Mexicans (0). Since the fiscal year began in October 2022, 254 minors have been issued deportation orders from the Cleveland EOIR. Most (140) are Guatemalans.

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



2- ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends

The U.S. government’s COVID-19 public health emergency order expired on May 11, 2023 — this includes the Title 42 order that has expelled over 2.5 million migrants from the US-Mexico border.  The Biden Administration is now rolling out plans that would continue to restrict many migrants’ access to asylum, including a “transit ban” and ultra-rapid adjudication of asylum cases under conditions of expedited removal. 

Since President Biden’s inauguration there have been 17,963  likely ICE air flights, including 3,107 removal flights (122 of those in June 2023).

ICE Air Flights: 136,800 deported/expelled over past year

With the end of Title 42 on May 11, there was a transition from T42 expulsion flights to Title 8 deportation flights. Over the past 12 months, there have been 1,368 removal flights. With an estimated average of 100 passengers per flight, this means approximately 136,800 migrants returned/expelled/deported.

Removal flights: 122 flights (up from 107 in May). Increased flights to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras. Decreased flights to Colombia, Ecuador.


El Salvador – 62% increase

Removal flights to El Salvador were 8 in May and 13 in June.


Guatemala – 30% increase

Removal flights to Guatemala increased to 34 in June, up from 26 in May.


Honduras – 46% increase

Removal flights to Honduras increased to 38 in June, up from 26 in May.


Colombia – 35% decrease

Removal flights to Colombia decreased to 11 in June, down from 17 in May.


Ecuador – 40% decrease

Removal flights to Ecuador continue to decrease each month: 20 in April, 10 in May, 6 in June.

Sources: Witness At the Border, WOLA



3- Cruelty at the Border Is Not Success

The Asylum Process Has Been Decimated

After Title 42, the Biden Administration has been enacting a series of rules that systematically destroy people's ability to seek asylum. The asylum rules require applicants to: 1) apply for asylum in a third country and be denied; or 2) use the convoluted, barely functional CBP One App to schedule an asylum appointment. If you are deported, you now face a 5-year entry ban and could be prosecuted with a felony if caught reentering. 

The new rules have negatively impacted the number of single adults passing their initial asylum screenings, from an average of 83% approvals between 2014-2019 to just 46% now. Expedited removals have also increased for asylum seekers, meaning they have a shorter amount of time to make a case for their asylum claim.  Thousands of migrants wait in makeshift camps in dangerous border towns as they wait to get one of the 1,450 appointment slots through the CBP One app each day. 

Source: Quixote Center



4- 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. 

July 4 – Four migrants drowned over a three-day period. After 4 drownings in three days, state workers in Texas began on July 7 installing the first 1,000 feet of a floating water barrier (a string of buoys anchored to the bottom of the river, and surrounded by concertina wire) near Eagle Pass, TX.  A legal challenge to Governor Abbott’s draconian “border security” effort is expected.

July 18 - Texas Troopers told to push children into Rio Grande and deny migrants water.  Reported in a story published by The Guardian were several shocking stories, including: On June 25, Texas state troopers discovered a group of 120 people along a fence near the river, exhausted and hungry. A commanding officer ordered troopers to “push the people back into the water to go to Mexico.” Texas State Troopers told The New York Times that “there were explicit orders to deny water to migrants and to tell them to go back to Mexico.”  Three troopers said they had been told by supervisors that troopers were not to inform the Border Patrol when migrants were in the water or at the Texas riverbank.

July 19 – ACLU challenges new asylum restrictions

Migrant justice and constitutional law organizations are challenging Biden’s new asylum restrictions. In the US District Court of Northern California on July 19, Judge Jon Tigar presided over an initial hearing in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and others. Tigar is an Obama appointee who struck down a Trump administration “asylum transit ban” in 2019. On July 19, the judge ruled the asylum ban as unconstitutional but gave the administration a 14-day grace period, which the Justice Department will try to get extended while it files an appeal.

July 22 – In Reynosa, a clandestine grave of 27 suspected migrants found.  A group called Love Collective for the Disappeared of Tamaulipas (the border state where the city of Reynosa is located, across from Hidalgo/McAllen, TX), began discovering bodies on July 14. Families of the disappeared received anonymous phone calls that directed them to the mass grave. As of July 22, a spokesperson says that neither state nor federal agents have yet arrived to investigate.  The only government presence is the Mexico National Guard, which the collective solicited to come and protect the mass gravesite.


Want to find out more about the conditions at the southern US border? Sign up for the weekly Border Update from WOLA. 


5- Darién Gap: Tourism Booms while Migrants Suffer

At the border of Colombia and Panama lies a region of mountains, rivers and lush forests. The Darién Gap is a magnet for influencers and adventure tourists exploring the region; for many migrants it is suffering and even death. The Darién Gap is an unavoidable obstacle for migrants from South America on their way north to the United States, especially after more restrictive migration policies have been established.

In April, the United States, together with Panama, established a campaign to halt migration through the Daríen Gap. Under pressure, Panama stated that it would step up its efforts against migration. But the people keep coming from South America. Last year, an estimated 250,000 migrants traveled through the region. The trek exposes them to hostile conditions, like lack of food, drinking water and hygiene products, as well as having to sleep outside without any protection. In addition to the harsh conditions, the migrants are exposed to kidnapping and robberies by criminal organizations making the region even more hostile to people seeking a better life. According to the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration (IOM), 137 people (including 13 children) died or went missing in the Darién Gap last year.

 In contrast, tourists pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a package that can include medical care, satellite phones, appropriate equipment, and a cook. The tourism industry does not mention that a humanitarian crisis is happening alongside the fancy guided tours. The refugees have no such support. Some pay as much as $4,000 for a guide to take their family through the Darién Gap, only to be abandoned to fend for themselves.



6- Texas Deploys Floating Buoys in the Rio Grande

Texas is spending about $1 million dollars to deploy a string of buoys into the Rio Grande River in order to deter migrants from crossing the border near the Texas town of Eagle Pass. On July 7, state workers began stringing together the first 1,000 feet of buoys wrapped in concertina wire, which sit about 4 feet above the water, anchored to the riverbed below with webbing to prevent people from swimming underneath.

Catholic Sister Isabel Turcios, who oversees a migrant shelter across the border in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, told the Texas Department of Public Safety that with the sharp concertina wire, the migrants spend more time in the river and increases the risks to them. Besides the dangers of the water, there is also a large presence of organized crime.

The Department of Justice told Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: “The United States intends to file legal action in relation to the State of Texas's unlawful construction of a floating barrier in the Rio Grande River. The State of Texas's actions violate federal law, raise humanitarian concerns, present serious risks to public safety and the environment, and may interfere with the federal government's ability to carry out its official duties.”

Abbott claims that Texas has sovereign authority to defend their border under both the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution.

Sources: NBCDFW, ABCNews, UPI,migrants%20from%20crossing%20the%20border%20near%20Eagle%20Pass 



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.



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.

A) Tell Biden to Cut Immigration Enforcement and Detention and Instead Fund REAL Human Needs

For Fiscal Year 2023, the Biden Administration requested almost $26 billion for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and CBP (Customs and Border Protection). This funding is used to jail, deport and profile immigrant communities. In one year, that same $26B could fund: 3.11 million public housing units for 1 Year, or 285,888 school teachers, or 2.4 million Head Start slots for pre-K kids, or VA medical care for 1.84 million vets. More funding for ICE and CBP means more militarization and surveillance while the necessary funding for support personnel that provide the services for immigrants to be processed into the U.S. and humanitarian needs go under-funded.


Click here to tell President Biden to choose hope over hate.

Click here to send a message to your congresspersons and US senators.


B) Tell your senators to oppose the Supplemental Border Funding Bill
Join the Defund Hate Campaign in calling our elected officials to reject funding to harmful immigration detention, surveillance, and border militarization. 


Click here to take action. 


C) Tell your congressperson to vote no on the House Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Members of Congress are giving concessions to the far-right to come up with dangerously misguided bipartisan “security-first” border policies. 


Click here to tell your US representative to reject proposals that increase militarization, detention, and surveillance technologies. 


D) Tell Congress to reject new bills that deny access to asylum at the southern border

If S.1473 and its House companion bill HR 3234 become law, we’ll see an increase in family separations, an unrealistic standard for asylum seekers to prove that their lives are endangered (for asylum claims), and mass expulsions of people seeking safety for themselves and their loved ones. 

Ohioans should be concerned that Senator Sherrod Brown has signed on as a co-sponsor of S.1473, which was introduced by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on May 4, 2023. 


Click here to tell your senators and US reps to reject these anti-asylum bills. 


E) Sign up for the Biden Deportations Tracker

Migrant justice advocates are tracking the number of people President Biden has deported and expelled from the country during his time in office.  See the re-launched tracker at with an updated count: over 4 million people.People always have and always will migrate. No matter the reason, everyone should be able to move freely and without fear of criminalization, deportation, and family separation. 


-Amplify the latest posts on social media! Share on Facebook // RT on Twitter //  Repost on IG 

-Post the Deportation Tracker on your own pages by using the social samples below and graphics here


F) Urge Congress to Pass the Afghan Adjustment Act

Nearly two years since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, over 85% of those evacuated remain dependent on humanitarian parole or other temporary protections, and the vast majority are unlikely to attain asylum or special immigrant status. Just like legislation enacted after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the Afghan Adjustment Act would address this defect, fulfilling our nation’s promise to these families. It would allow Afghans to apply to become lawful permanent residents, the same status they would have received had they been admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.


Click here to urge your congressperson and US senators to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.



Read the full monthly newsletter at .