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Thousands of Haitians Camp Along US-Mexico Border, Seeking Asylum

International Disaster Volunteers dig a drain for a Haitian orphanage destroyed by the massive 2010 earthquake. ("Haiti 035" by IDVMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

A little less than 14,000 Haitians are camping along the border in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, as they seek refuge in the United States.

More Haitians had been there earlier in the month, but hundreds left the border and moved south into Mexico after the Biden administration started to deport many back to Haiti.

However, on September 23, the U.S. special envoy refused to continue their deportation of Haitian migrants in protest.

Outrage over the Biden administration’s deportations stems from images of U.S. border patrol using whips on migrants, even after the White House condemned those actions.

On the other hand, President Biden faces pressure to tighten up the U.S. Mexico border from migrants.

Many of the Haitian migrants at the border come for asylum and escape the country’s long-standing political instability that was exacerbated this year with the assassination of President Jovenel in Moise. Many also seek asylum after Haiti suffered another massive earthquake in August and a significant number come from Brazil or other South American nations after they fled Haiti after the deadly 2010 earthquake.

Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) has not deported camping migrants back to Haiti but has moved them further south to Tapachula to fill out asylum applications. Their main concern is hygiene and overcrowding at the border.

However, many of these Haitians are frustrated with the INM’s decision as many have already filled out unsuccessful asylum applications in Tapachula and according to many migrants, Tapachula has very few work opportunities for them while they wait.

It also doesn’t help that Haitians have one of the lowest asylum acceptance rates out of many different nationalities that apply from Mexico. Last year, their acceptance rate was a meager 21% and although this year’s has improved to 31%, that rate pales in comparison to 85% of Hondurans being accepted or the 98% of Venezuelans that are approved.

Despite these dismal rates, even more Haitians are on their way north from South American countries in order to seek refuge, desperate for a chance to enter the United States. According to Colombian officials, approximately 19,000 Haitians are waiting to cross north into Panama. 

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