World How did so many Haitian immigrants end up at the southern US border?
Children a big part of migration through perilous Darien Gap
NECOCLI, Colombia (AP) — Every day, at least 500 migrants from around the world sail out of Necocli, a small town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, across the Gulf of Uraba to the village of Acandi, to start a week-long trek through the jungle that takes them into Panama — the next stop on the long road to the United States. About one quarter of them are children, according to Panamanian officials, and often still in arms. While trekking throughAbout one quarter of them are children, according to Panamanian officials, and often still in arms.
DEL RIO, TEXAS — Thousands of Haitian immigrants encamped at Del Rio, Texas, after entering the U.S. through the Rio Grande are awaiting either deportation from U.S. authorities or deciding to stay put and seek asylum.
But how did these Haitian migrants make their way to Texas instead of entering from Florida — a state that's closer to the Caribbean nation?
US nears plan for widescale expulsions of Haitian migrants
DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — The Biden administration worked Saturday on plans to send many of the thousands of Haitian immigrants who have gathered in a Texas border city back to their Caribbean homeland, in a swift response to the huge influx of people who suddenly crossed the border from Mexico and congregated under and around a bridge. Details were yet to be finalized but would likely involve five to eight flights per day that would begin Sunday, according to an official with direct knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
Many of those migrants, experts say, were likely already in Central America, as powerful natural disasters and an often-dysfunctional government prompted a steady flow of out-migration for more than a decade.
But now, with economic opportunities drying up in Latin America as the pandemic continues, Haitian migrants are seeking asylum in the U.S.
"The end goal is always the United States," said Eduardo Gamarra, professor of political science at the Florida International University. "And the pattern is one that wasn't really begun by the Haitians, it was begun by the Cubans. They're the ones who set this trail."
2010 earthquake spurs migration
A devastating earthquake in 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1.5 million people from the island nation. Afterwards, many Haitians left their homeland for South and Central America.
Biden sends hundreds of border agents, steps up flights to remove Haitian migrants from south Texas
The Department of Homeland Security released the Biden administration's six-point strategy to deal with the influx of migrants at the southern border.The sudden wave brought thousands of Haitians to Del Rio, Texas, many gathering near a bridge in the border town as the administration prepared a plan to deal with what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deemed a border crisis.
In Brazil, Haitian migrants were granted work visas for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They were also able to obtain permanent residency for humanitarian reasons. By August 2020, there were more than 143,000 Haitians in Brazil,, a daily newspaper in Spain.
In Chile, the Haitian population jumped. In 2017 there were 64,567 Haitians in Chile, with an estimated 150,000 Haitians in Chile in 2018,, a Washington-based think-tank.
Jacques Jonassaint, a former special envoy of President Emile Jonassaint to the Clinton Administration, says in Chile many Haitians did not get work visas because of the country's lengthy process.
"They did not obtain those visas; the Chilean government refused to give them the visas," said Jonassaint. "And the reason for that is to get a permit to work in Chile there's a process that is very lengthy and most Haitians don't carry paperwork with them."
Haitian deportees start over in country they don’t recognize
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Claile Bazile doesn’t know where she and her 2-year-old son will stay once they leave the hotel where officials temporarily set aside rooms for some of the hundreds of people streaming into Haiti after being expelled from the U.S. in the past couple of days. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Haiti last month and killed more than 2,200 people also destroyed her family’s home. “They’re out on theThe 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Haiti last month and killed more than 2,200 people also destroyed her family’s home.
Haitian nationals were able to obtain tourist visas in Chile but in 2018 Chilean President Sebastián Piñerathat allowed Haitians to move from tourists to migrants once they found a job.
Gamarra says it's probable that many Haitians were undocumented in Latin American countries such as Chile, Brazil and Ecuador, meaning they aren't able to be deported legally to those countries.
"They can't even be deported to Mexico because under international law, you have to be deported to the country where you have legal residence or a country has to agree to accept you," he said. "And more than likely, none of these countries is willing to accept Haitian migrants because of their status."
And the COVID-19 pandemic hit particularly hard in Latin America. Brazil, the region's largest economy,, and from COVID-19.
What the border looks like now
For three weeks, migrants have freely crossed the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas — a city of about 35,000 people.
Texas Republican congressman says the Border Patrol agents filmed whipping at Haitian migrants are 'doing God's work'
The Department of Homeland Security announced it has opened an investigation into the treatment of the Haitian migrants, including children.Gonzalez argued that the law enforcement agents were "doing God's work" by attempting to prevent the migrants from crossing the river on Sunday near Del Rio, Texas. Thousands of Haitian migrants hoping to seek asylum in the US are currently sheltering in a squalid makeshift refugee camp under a bridge in Del Rio.
on horseback prompted outrage Monday, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki calling the images "horrific" and Democratic lawmakers demanding accountability.
Mexican authorities have also blocked entry to Ciudad Acuña and will start deporting Haitians. (Mexico only accepts migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.)
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas visited Del Rio Monday and said that an additional 600 Homeland Security
Jonassaint also pointed to the lack of persecution Haitians from their government as a reason why they are being expelled so quickly out of the U.S.
"If you look at the strict adherence to the law, both U.S. laws and international laws, those people coming in from Chile or through Mexico should not come at all in the United States, legitimately, asking or requesting for asylum because there's no persecution by their government against them," he said.
But Haitians pointed to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a recent destructive earthquake, both this year, in their homeland as reasons why they are fearful of returning to Haiti.
'They shouldn't be here': Texas border town reckons with Haitian influx
U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote resigned with a scathing letter criticizing the treatment of Haitian migrants and deportations from a Texas border camp.The border bridge closed Sept. 17, after U.S. Customs and Border Protection was overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of Haitian migrants. Each day, Dehoyos loses about $1,000.
Karla M. McKanders, an immigration law expert at Vanderbilt University, said that Haitian migration through Texas is not a new phenomenon.
"It's important for people to recognize that Haitian nationals have been using this alternative route to get to the southern border for a few years, maybe even a little bit more than that," McKanders said.
More than 320 migrants Haitians were flown back to Port-au-Prince on three flights Sunday and Haiti says it is expecting six flights Tuesday,.
Trump enacted Title 42 which allowed for quick expulsion of asylum seekers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities last year. President Joe Biden continued the Trump-era policy; however,.
Horace G. Campbell, professor of African American Studies and Political Science at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University spoke strenuously against the deportations. "The United States is succumbing to white supremacist hysteria in this country by deporting these Haitians," Campbell said.
Contributing: Sarah Elbeshbishi, Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
'Amistad' binds Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña amid migrant crisis .
DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — Amistad — Spanish for friendship — binds the sister cities of Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Each year, the border communities that sit across the Rio Grande from one another come together to celebrate that bond during the Fiesta de la Amistad. Leaders from both sides of the border meet at the festival and share abrazos, or hugs, to commemorate their common history and an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico to build the Amistad Dam and Reservoir in the 1960s. The relationship shows in many ways, with workers and families typically going back-and-forth between Acuña and Del Rio daily.