US Mexico urges Haitians at US-Mexico border to give up and head south
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.
By Daina Beth Solomon
CIUDAD ACUNA, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican officials are urging Haitians on the Texas border trying to reach the United States to give up and return to Mexico's frontier with Guatemala to request asylum, even as discontent grows over the treatment meted out to the beleaguered migrants.
Up to 14,000 mostly Haitians were camped just north of the Rio Grande river this month as they attempted to enter the United States, but hundreds retreated to Mexico after U.S. officials began sending planes of people back to Haiti.
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.
On Thursday, the U.S. special envoy to Haiti quit in protest over the Biden administration's deportations of migrants to the Caribbean nation, which has been rocked by the assassination of its president, gang violence and natural disasters.
That followed widespread outrage stirred up by images of a U.S. border guard on horseback unfurling a whip-like cord against at Haitian migrants near their camp.
Yet pressure is also growing on U.S. President Joe Biden to tighten the border, and Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM) is starting to return migrants to the southern Mexican city of Tapachula so they can file asylum applications there.
How did so many Haitian immigrants end up at the southern US border?
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said Sunday 3,300 migrants have been removed from the Del Rio Camp either to planes or detention centers since Friday.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?
"We're not taking them out of the country," INM chief Francisco Garduno told Reuters. "We're bringing them away from the border so there are no hygiene and overcrowding problems."
Haitians who made the perilous, costly journey from Guatemala to Ciudad Acuna on the Mexico-U.S. border are skeptical about the merits of going back to a city where they had already unsuccessfully tried to process asylum claims.
Willy Jean, who spent two fruitless months in Tapachula, said if Mexico really wanted to help the migrants, it should allow them to make their applications elsewhere.
"Tapachula's really tough, really small, there's lots of people," he told an INM agent trying to persuade him to go south. "There's no work, there's nothing."
Mexico Halts Some Bus Lines From Operation to Prevent Carrying Migrants to Border Towns
The U.S. and Mexico have been ramping up efforts to stem the flow of migrants across the border, including increasing deportations of Haitian migrants. A Haitian man is detained by Mexican immigration officials in Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico on Sept. 20, 2021. Luis Ángel Urraza, president of the local chamber of commerce, said the bus lines had been stopped by Mexican authorities and the U.S. government had closed the bridge connecting Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio, Texas, to stem the flow of migrants.
The United States has returned nearly 2,000 migrants to Haiti from the camp at Del Rio, Texas opposite Ciudad Acuna, and taken close to 4,000 people into custody, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said late on Thursday.
The Del Rio area, which includes the camp where families have crammed into makeshift shelters made of reeds on the banks of the Rio Grande, now holds some 3,000 people, DHS said.
Mexican official data show Haitians are already far less likely to have asylum claims approved in Mexico compared with many nationalities, even if their chances are starting to improve.
Last year, of all asylum claims that were formally resolved, only 22% of Haitian cases won approval, compared with 98% for Venezuelans, 85% of Hondurans, 83% of Salvadorans and 44% of Cubans. So far this year, the Haitian number is up to 31%.
Asylum requests have overwhelmed Mexico's Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR), which is scheduling appointments months away, if at all. Some Haitians in Ciudad Acuna said they had left Tapachula because they were so fed up with waiting.
"It basically pushes Haitians out," said Caitlyn Yates, a migration expert at the University of British Columbia.
Soggy papers discarded in the grass near the Rio Grande showed that a Haitian man who applied for a humanitarian visa in August would have had to wait until December for an appointment.
Telling migrants eyeing the U.S. side of the border that it would be better to process claims before the media disappeared from Del Rio and Ciudad Acuna, INM agents swept through the camp on Thursday beseeching them to go back to Tapachula.
"We're giving you this option," INM official Montserrat Saldana told a cluster of migrants circled around her. "All of you who cross the river are going straight to Haiti."
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Additional reporting by Alberto Fajardo and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Dave Graham and Gerry Doyle)
US abuse of Haitian asylum seekers is not new — change is long overdue .
The Biden administration campaigned on a promise of a more humane immigration and asylum system— to really build back better, they must stop repeating the mistakes of the past and start here. Dr. Yael Schacher is the senior U.S. advocate at Refugees International and a historian of the U.S. asylum system.