Conditions worsen for Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico border

Conditions worsen for Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico border

Conditions deteriorate at a camp on the banks of the Rio Grande where thousands of asylum seekers, mostly Haitians, have gathered in hopes of securing asylum in the United States, as pressure mounts on President Joe Biden to suspend deportation flights to Haiti.
Reuters news agency footage showed people with small babies and toddlers under makeshift shelters made of reeds in Del Rio, Texas, just across the River from Mexico.

Clothes were hung to dry and trash was strewn on the floor, while parents washed their children with jugs of river water and tried to find shady areas in the sweltering heat. Migrants and asylum seekers said food was still scarce and there were not enough portable toilets.

The situation at the US-Mexico border has drawn widespread condemnation in recent days, especially after images were broadcast showing US border officials on horseback using whip-like ropes to intimidate Haitian migrants and asylum seekers. trying to cross the river.

At its peak, up to 14,000 people were camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, but US authorities have moved thousands for immigration processing and have deported more than 500 Haitians since Sunday.

Mexico and the United States were preparing on Wednesday to remove more Haitian migrants and asylum seekers from the camp, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said deportation flights will continue.

US, Mexican officials say deportation flights continue [Felix Marquez/AP Photo]

Some Haitians have been freed in the United States and allowed to continue their immigration cases, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, citing two unidentified American officials, contradicting public statements by the Biden administration that the thousands of people in the camp risked immediate expulsion.

Other migrants have decided to stay in Ciudad Acuna, on the Mexican side of the border, across from Del Rio, due to food shortages and other poor conditions in the United States. As of Wednesday, around 200 people had set up a handful of camping tents and tarps for shelter.

U.S. politicians from both main parties have criticized Biden’s handling of the situation, and rights groups have called on the president to end a Trump-era policy that is being used to immediately expel people asking for it. asylum at the US border.

Authorities have ordered an investigation into U.S. officials who used the whip-shaped agreements, and DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the officers involved had been removed from their frontline duties.

Deportation flights to Haiti have also been called “obscene,” with advocates pointing out that the Caribbean nation is grappling with widespread political instability and increased gang violence, and struggling to rebuild itself after an earthquake. devastating land.

Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN refugee agency, also warned that deportations to such a volatile situation could violate international law.

Most Haitians have not arrived directly from Haiti. Many had previously tried to settle in South America, but told of struggling to find work amid pandemic restrictions and the economic downturn.

On Tuesday, after talks with Haitian government officials, Mexico said repatriation flights would be offered to those “who wish to return to their country.”

There is deep instability in Haiti – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where a presidential assassination, rising gang violence and a major earthquake have wreaked havoc in recent weeks. [Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters]

At the same time, Mexico has started removing migrants from the US border, as well as sending some by bus to its border with Guatemala in the south.

The government airlifted some 130 people to the town of Villahermosa in southern Mexico, and another 130 people were airlifted to the town of Tapachula on the Guatemalan border, a Mexican official said.

On Tuesday evening, agents from the National Institute of Migration of Mexico (INM) entered two budget hotels on a small street in Ciudad Acuna and escorted around 20 migrants, including toddlers, in vans.

Meanwhile, the Colombian human rights ombudsman Carlos Camargo said Wednesday that some 19,000 people, mostly Haitians, had gathered on Colombia’s northern coast, from where they hope to cross into Panama and find a route to the United States.

Some have been stranded for weeks in the coastal town of Necocli, in the northwestern department of Antioquia, awaiting seats on boats crossing the Gulf of Uraba to Acandi, which borders Panama.

Once in Acandi, migrants begin a dangerous trek through the Darien jungle, where they battle snakes, steep ravines, swollen rivers, tropical downpours, and criminals often linked to drug trafficking.

In a recent report, Doctors Without Borders said criminal gangs in the jungle prey on migrants, and assaults and rapes are common. More than 50,000 migrants have crossed the border between Colombia and Panama so far this year.


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