You are here


Migrant Justice Newsletter - MAY 2024

To read the full newsletter, go to .


Please consider supporting IRTF’s Migrant Justice work.

How to donate

You can DONATE now at

Venmo @irtfcleveland

PayPal @irtfcleveland


IRTF, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113


(1) See Us. Hear Us. #Reunite US

Ohio Immigrant Alliance has been a lead organizer of the #ReuniteUS campaign.

Listen to this radio interview with Ohio Newsroom, two Ohio fathers and members of Ohio Immigrant Alliance, Birane Wane and Ibrahima Keita, addressed the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood about being a father after deportation. Tragically, one of his children died after his departure. Ibrahima’s experience in immigration court was also featured in an op-ed by the Vera Institute of Justice and National Partnership for New Americans.

Join Ohio Immigrant Alliance on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 11 to deliver copies of  of “Broken Hope: Deportation and the Road Home” to every member of the U.S. House and Senate on June 11 in Washington, DC! Some expenses paid. Read more and sign up here.



(2) ICE Air: Removal Flights

Over the last 12 months, there have been 7,860 ICE Air flights; 1,538 of those have been removal flights.  With an estimated average of 100 passengers per flight, this means that over the past 12 months, as many as 153,800 people could have been returned to Latin America, the Caribbean and a small number to Africa by air by the U.S.

In April 2024, removal flights decreased from 133 in March to 128 in April. The Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala (42), Honduras (29), and El Salvador (10) were destinations for 63% of all removal flights in April. Adding the 13 flights to Mexico makes it 73% of all deportation flights. In April, the estimated number of people returned to Northern Triangle countries represented 29% of March encounters from those countries.


OCT = 52 removal flights

NOV = 45

DEC = 47

JAN = 52

FEB = 58

MAR = 51

APR = 42



OCT = 34 removal flights

NOV = 40

DEC = 40

JAN = 37

FEB = 29

MAR = 27

APR = 29


El Salvador

OCT = 20 removal flights

NOV = 14

DEC = 9

JAN = 11

FEB = 12

MAR = 10

APR = 10



OCT = 5 removal flights

NOV = 5

DEC = 4

JAN = 6

FEB = 7

MAR = 12

APR = 9


(3) Migration Declining

In the first few months of 2024, the number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border dropped tremendously. One of the most significant reasons for this is the Mexican government crackdown on people transiting their country. In January and February, Mexico’s migration forces broke their single-month migrant apprehensions record (97,969 apprehensions in November 2023) stopping 120,005 migrants in January and 119,943 in February. Recent laws however, prohibit Mexico from detaining migrant children or holding adult migrants in detention more than 36 hours. Instead Mexico appears to be busing migrants away from its northern border and sending them to destinations deep in the country’s interior or back to the southern border.  With large numbers of people currently bottled up throughout Mexico, this is causing harm to migrants and is unsustainable.




(4) At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border 

April 26 - Edixon Del Jesus Farias-Farias, a 26-year-old citizen of Venezuela and a detainee in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Conroe, Texas, died on April 18. He had crossed near Eagle Pass on Christmas Day 2023 and was ordered removed to Venezuela on January 19. Venezuela is currently not accepting U.S. deportation flights.

May 3 - Two women were hospitalized and in need of “higher level care” after falling from the border wall in San Diego.

May 3 - An article by the Migration Policy Institute debunked claims that bringing back Title 42 or a similar “asylum shutdown” policy would deter or significantly reduce irregular migration. Despite nearly 3 million expulsions, it found, migration at the U.S.-Mexico border reached new highs during the 38 months that the policy was in place.


Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: Mexico blocks migration, U.S. legislation, migrant removals, nationalities - WOLA

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: April dip in migration, drug seizure data, investigations published - WOLA

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: April dip in migration, drug seizure data, investigations published - WOLA


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


(5) Guatemalan Youth Defy Tragedy, Continue Trek to US Despite Familiar Losses

In the rural town of Comitancillo, Guatemala, Glendy Aracely Ramírez, 17, regularly prays by the altar in her parents' bedroom, honoring her sister Blanca, who tragically perished with 50 other migrants in a Texas smuggling incident. Expressing her aspirations amid adversities, Glendy packs her bag for her own journey to the United States, undeterred by violence along migrant routes. She voices a common sentiment among Guatemalan youths: a longing for better opportunities. The migration wave, particularly of unaccompanied minors, reflects a pervasive sense of hopelessness in Guatemala's Indigenous Western Highlands, where poverty and limited prospects prevail. Despite the dangers, families often incur hefty debts to fund the perilous journey, viewing migration as the only chance for a brighter future. The narrative intertwines personal tragedies with broader socio-economic factors driving migration, including rising violence and climate change. Amidst the grief, a resilient spirit endures, as families grapple with loss while striving to persevere.



(6) Kidnapping of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at Texas-Tamaulipas Border Reaches Intolerable Levels

Service providers along the Texas-Tamaulipas border paint a harrowing picture of the dangers faced by migrants. According to a religious worker, kidnappings, once rare, have become disturbingly common. The director of a humanitarian group reports that entire families are being targeted, with people dragged from their tents at night. An attorney working with asylum seekers reveals a grim reality: every woman they assist has been raped, prompting some to take birth control before their journey. These accounts, gathered from recent interviews, shed light on the perilous conditions migrants face along this route. Texas's Rio Grande Valley, bordering Tamaulipas, stands as the epicenter of this crisis, witnessing a surge in migrant traffic from 2013 to 2022. The grip of criminal factions in the region extends to various illicit activities, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling, which have surged due to stringent U.S. border policies. Collusion between Mexican authorities and criminal groups exacerbates the crisis, while U.S. border policies inadvertently facilitate the exploitation of migrants by funneling them into perilous territories. Urgent action is needed from both governments to address this humanitarian catastrophe, including increasing access to asylum, enhancing security measures, and ensuring accountability for perpetrators of crimes against migrants.



(7) President-elect of Panama Pledges to Close the Darién Gap

Three weeks before the presidential election in Panama, conservative party candidate José Raúl Mulino, who served as security minister under former president Ricardo Martinelli, pledged to close down the treacherous Darién Gap, through which more than a half a million migrants crossed last year. “The border of the United States, instead of being in Texas, moved to Panama.” He also pledged to “repatriate all these people.”

In response, Juan Pappier, the deputy director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said: “Closing the Darién Gap is virtually impossible…Restricting the flow would push people to take even more dangerous paths. People will risk their lives, organised crime groups will get richer, and Panama will have even less control.”

On May 5, José Raúl Mulino beat out seven other candidates. Although the 64-year-old Mulino won just 35% of the popular vote, there is no run-off system in Panama, so he will be sworn into office on July 1.



(8) Trans & Nonbinary Migrants File Complaint Over Treatment at ICE Detention Facility in Colorado 

Activists have filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of five transgender and nonbinary migrants who say they were mistreated at an immigration detention center in Colorado.

On April 9, a group of migrant justice advocacy organizations filed a complaint with DHS on behalf of five LGBTQ+ detainees at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility (operated by the for-profit corporation GEO) near Denver, Colorado. Detainees have been degraded or suffered mistreatment by staff. Victoria, who has been in ICE custody for more than two years, says she does not have regular access to hormones. Victoria further claims poor food, lack of access to exercise and stress and anxiety because of her prolonged detention has caused has made her health deteriorate.

A 2015 memorandum from ICE requires personnel to allow trans detainees to identify themselves based on their gender identity. It contains guidelines for a “respectful, safe and secure environment” for trans detainees and requires detention facilities to provide them with access to hormone therapy and other trans-specific health care. The recent legal complaint, however, states this memo does not go far enough to protect trans and nonbinary detainees.





Now that you are up to date on some of the issues at and around the southern border of the U.S., here are some quick things you can do this week to take action in solidarity with migrants and their families.

(A) Migrant Families in Cleveland Need Household Items

AMIS and NEO Friends of Immigrants  are resettling three families into their first apartments in Cleveland by June 1. Furniture and household items needed. For a list, please email Rachel DeGolia at or Anne Hill at


(B) Root Causes: Cut US Militarism in Latin America

The U.S. military maintains 750 military installations abroad to police and surveil other sovereign nations, and sends military aid, including weapons, bombs, and tanks, to countries around the world. All too often this military aid is used against civilians. Endless money fuels endless war, at the expense of human needs at home and abroad. In FY 2023, less than $2 out of every $5 in federal discretionary spending was available to fund positive investments in people and communities, the rest went towards military programs. As we work to realign our national priorities, ending the Unfunded Priorities List (UPL), which allows additional, unchecked spending on weapons and war, is a critical first step.


Click here to ask that your congressperson support all efforts in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act process to end the requirement that the Department of Defense provide annual, Unfunded Priorities Lists (UPL) to Congress, which request funding for wish lists, over and above what is inside the President’s budget request.


(C) Root Causes: Stop Deportation Flights to Haiti

Despite the most recent round of violent civil unrest that has embroiled Haiti since February, on May 16 the government sent its second deportation flight to Haiti, with people seeking asylum on board.


Click here to tell President Biden to halt all deportation flights and grant protected status to ensure no Haitian nationals are removed to a country in turmoil. You can read a number of policy proposals to help stabilize conditions in Haiti and protect those fleeing the violence here


(D) Root Causes: Redesignate TPS for Nicaraguans

Recent extensions of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are not sufficient to protect the thousands of Nicaraguans who have fled since 2018. It is the only country from the Cuban, Haitian, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan Humanitarian Parole program that has been left unprotected. If the Biden Administration pushes forward sanctions against the Ortega government in Nicaragua for alleged human rights abuses, then it must realize that Nicaragua needs TPS.


Click here to urge that the Biden-Harris administration redesignate TPS for Nicaragua


(E) Support Migrants in Detention

Piero Mendoza is a 19-year old Peruvian law student who was separated from his older sister at the border and sent to a Mississippi jail.  Immigration attorney Brian Hoffman (of Ohio Center for Strategic Immigration Litigation & Outreach) is representing Piero, who is depressed.


Please make time to send a card or brief note. Address it to :

Piero Carrasco Mendoza 

A 241-493-611

Adams County Detention Center

PO Box 850

Washington, MS 39190


Questions? Contact