May News & Updates on Migrant Rights & Racial Justice

Photo: Peg Hunter

May News & Updates from NNIRR


There have been many positive immigration policy changes this month. We celebrate these wins and know that the shifts towards justice are due to the tireless organizing and advocacy on the part of countless organizations in the immigrant rights movement.

While there is much to applaud, there is even more work to undo the continuing harms of the past administration, coupled with a historically broken immigration system that has routinely failed to protect human rights and has perpetuated deep racial injustices. In this digest, we offer a round up of some of the significant developments and few ways to take action. The victories described below have been achieved by the power of community voices en masse and round-the-clock advocacy.

TPS for Haiti

After months of intense advocacy on the part of Black immigrant organizations and allied partners, the Biden administration announced the redesignation of Temporary Protected Status for Haiti. This announcement was long overdue, and a welcome reprieve for over 150,000 Haitians in the US and living under the threat of TPS termination — a move that could provoke mass deportations to a country currently in crisis. NNIRR had joined with 516 organizations and individuals calling on Biden to grant immediate redesignation of TPS for Haiti in late April.

This win is a direct result of the organizing led by Haitian Bridge Alliance, Family Action Network Movement, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, UndocuBlack Network and many others.

We applaud this decision and join the call to urge the Biden administration to:

  • stop the continued deportations and expulsions at the border, and allow new arrivals and expelled Haitians to apply for TPS;
  • extend TPS for Cameroon, Mauritania, Bahamas, St. Vincent, Somalia, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sudan, and Nepal;
  • address the racism and flaws within our immigration system and deliver solutions to ensure racial equity and immigrant justice; and
  • push for Congressional action for immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented migrants, without harmful tradeoffs or exclusions.

Two Detention Centers Closed

The Biden administration announced last week that ICE will cut the contracts and shut down two immigrant detention centers, both under investigations for egregious rights violations: the Irwin County Detention Center in GA and the Bristol County Detention Center in MA. Shocking revelations of abuse, medical neglect and malpractice have been cited at the Irwin Detention Center, with documented reports of women detainees having been victims of gynecological procedures performed without their consent. Allegations were brought forward by brave detainees and a whistleblower, Dawn Wooten, who was a nurse at the facility. Bristol Detention Center is also under investigation for abuse and rights violations — tactics of retaliation against detainees who came forward with complaints.

This is a major win for local and national advocates who have worked for years to shut down these facilities. As with the news above, our collective celebration is accompanied by the knowledge that much more must be done. We urge the Biden administration to continue this progress and to:

  • release — not simply transfer — all detainees in these facilities;
  • conduct an immediate review of all ICE detention centers and move towards their closure (they are also known for persistent neglect and abuse of detainees, including the rampant spread of Covid due to their shameful policies and practices); and
  • end the system of immigration detention and allow migrants and refugees to pursue their cases reunited with their families and living in their communities.


1. Join us in calling for releases not transfers! #FreeThemAll 

Phone Numbers for: White House: 202-456-1111 &  ICE Headquarters: 202-732-3000

Sample Script:

“Hi, my name is _______, and I am calling to urge that people in ICE custody at the Irwin Detention Center in GA and at Bristol County in MA, and beyond, be released and not transferred to another detention center. We urge the White House and ICE to release everyone so they can navigate their case in community, not behind bars in detention during a deadly global pandemic. Thank you.”

2. Sign the Petition to Close the #FirstTen

NNIRR, as a member of Detention Watch Network, is circulating this DWN petition to demand Biden close the #FirstTen immigrant detention centers.

The facilities on this list represent every facility across the country where medical neglect is common, physical and sexual abuse are widely reported, basic necessities are lacking, food is rotten, access to counsel and support is restricted, and immigrants needlessly suffer. This list provides a roadmap, a #FirstTen to communities not cages.

Other notable wins this month…

  • In early May, the US government announced the beginning of a concerted reunification effort for children and families separated during the past administration.

An hour and a half before she was due at the bridge, on Tuesday, Gonzáles Brebe began wheeling two suitcases to the border. Corchado was meeting her on the Mexican side, so that they could cross together. Biden’s task force had made arrangements for the exchange to go smoothly. Gonzáles Brebe was entering the U.S. with a special status known as humanitarian parole, which will grant her work authorization and a reprieve from deportation for three years. A minute before eight o’clock, she took her first steps in El Paso, which Corchado captured with a photograph. Gonzáles Brebe posed for the camera, twirling in a blue dress and black shoes, with her arms outstretched to the sky.

—From the New Yorker article A Mother, Separated from Her Children at the Border, Comes Home”

  • In a flip flop on policy, Biden announced this month an increase in refugee admissions — to 62,500 this fiscal year — a reversal that came about following intense advocate outcry. A few weeks earlier, Biden had announced the intention to keep the admissions levels of 15,000 originally set by Trump. After immediate condemnation of that announcement, Biden backtracked and stated they would indeed raise the admissions levels.
  • Biden announced an executive action to improve legal services and access which would include migrants and refugees, and reopened the Access to Justice Office that was closed under Trump.
  • DACA leaders met with the White House to discuss protections for Dreamers and emphasize their demands for a path to citizenship for all undocumented migrant.
  • The administration announced in early May the cessation of military funding diverted for the border wall. While this is an important move, we must continue to pressure Biden to cut the contracts for all border construction, including any and all Congressional appropriations intended for this purpose.

Climate Justice and Migrant Rights

NNIRR organizes at the intersections of social justice, including climate justice and migration. Climate change, global migration and human rights are inextricably linked. As global warming advances around the world, increasing numbers of people are being displaced from their lands, livelihoods and homes, becoming “internally displaced peoples” within their own countries, or forced to migrate across international borders. And as they are displaced, access to human rights becomes an even more important challenge in the pursuit of safety, work and a new home.

Organizing across sectors is imperative to bring about a common agenda for advocacy and shared strategies and actions to address both climate change and migration, and above all, protect human rights.

Check out our website resource page Climate Justice & Migrant Rights for backgrounders on the intersections and watch the Earth Day 2021 panel discussion featuring NNIRR Co-Director, Alma Maquitico.

Update on NNIRR’s Spotlight: Mapping for Human Rights on the Border

Our initiative will produce a “digital mapping” and accompanying human rights report to help identify issues, needs and concerns to inform community advocacy and action.

Alma Maquitico, NNIRR

NNIRR’s Spotlight Survey is still open! If you are a border organization working with migrants and refugees, we want to hear from you AND include you in our digital map that will provide information on critical services (health, food security, emergency housing, legal services) for border communities and migrants on the move.

The map will also help identify and support communities and other stakeholders to engage in rights-based advocacy and inclusion.

Please, take 20 minutes of your day to participate in this survey and human rights documentation initiative. For more information on this project go here.

To join us, contact:

#4rightsatborders #SpotlightRStory #TakeTheSurvey

We can’t do this without you! Please support NNIRR today!

️☀️ Consider becoming a monthly sustainer at $5, $10, $25 a month.

️☀️ If you can’t give monthly, how about a one-time donation?

Every dollar makes a difference. Your contributions support NNIRR’s work to:

  • advocate for immigration policy that centers human rights
  • lift up grassroots leadership, organizing and advocacy
  • spotlight human rights organizing at the US-Mexico border
  • advocate for international migrant rights and human rights at borders at the UN and other international agencies
  • organize at the intersection of climate justice and migrant rights


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