Haitian migrants pass through 11 countries to reach Texas border amid US-Mexico crisis
Many Haitian migrants are waiting at Texas border camps to know their fate amid the US crackdown.
The “extraordinary” journey of one Fiterson Janvier from South America to the United States has been full of exhaustion and disbelief.
Fiterson Janvier, father of a three-year-old boy, said he spent several years in Brazil and later moved to Chile where he met his wife. However, he could not move beyond South America and therefore, he and his family waited for the right time to attempt to reach the US.
Fiterson Janvier, who was among other migrants who had gathered at a Haitian restaurant a few blocks from the border wall, said, “We have been through 11 different countries to get here.”
“Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador…” — describing a harrowing journey on foot, by bus and other transport, Janvier started naming different countries during his interview to the BBC.
On his trip, Janvier said he saw bodies of other Haitian and Cuban migrants as he, along with his family, crossed the dense forest between Colombia and Panama.
He also claimed that he was looted by some “bandits”. He further said some of the women were raped by the gang, however, his wife managed to hide with the child when the gang members appeared.
Janvier’s troubles didn’t end here. The situation worsened for him when he heard that his mother was among 2,200 people who had died in the earthquake that had struck Haiti in August — the worst affected city was his hometown Les Cayes.
“My father has no one now, the only person who can send him money is my brother [in the US]…And I need to help too,” Janvier was quoted as saying.
Janvier is among several Haitians who attempt to cross into the US from the Mexican border town of Mexicali, the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, another migrant from Haiti Guileme Paterson appeared dazed. “It is a difficult moment,” she said before beginning to cross the Rio Grande with her husband and their four children.
“Things are going badly,” said Michou Petion, carrying her two-year-old son in her arms toward the river. Her husband carried bags of belongings and several pairs of sneakers dangled around his neck.
“The US is deporting a lot to Haiti, now I don’t know if I can enter or leave,” Petion said.
Thousands of migrants gathered under the bridge that connects Del Rio in Texas and Mexico’s Ciudad Acuña, creating a makeshift camp after the US acted Sunday to stem the flow of migrants into Texas by blocking the Mexican border at an isolated town.
Haitians have been crossing from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, for weeks now. As they crossed, some Haitians carried boxes on their heads filled with food. Some removed their pants before getting into the river and carried them. Others were concerned about getting wet.
Haitians have been migrating to the US in large numbers from South America for several years, many having left their Caribbean nation after a devastating 2010 earthquake.
Many Haitian migrants camped in a small Texas border town were recently being released in the US, two US officials had said earlier.
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said about 1,400 migrants had been sent to Haiti on 13 flights, rapidly expelled under the pandemic public health authority known as Title 42.
Another 3,200 were in US custody and being processed, while several thousand have returned to Mexico, DHS officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Some Haitians are being allowed to remain in the US at least temporarily to seek asylum or to stay under some other claim to residency, with notices to appear later before immigration authorities.
DHS officials declined to specify the number but said they are people with particular “vulnerabilities,” which can mean they have young children or are pregnant, or because the US doesn’t have capacity to hold them in detention, especially during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 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.
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