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The Haitian Migration Crisis Will Impact Latin America

Shocking photos of nearly 14,000 migrants from the Haitian migration crisis crossing the Rio Grande to Mexico, after being confronted in Texas by border agents on horseback, have traveled the world generating concern.

Haitian migrants walking across the Rio Grande

The crisis with the Haitians has become an Achilles heel of the new Biden government, which has made it the target of criticism. Photo: TW-CBSNews

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramirez Ramos

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Leer en español: La crisis migratoria de haitianos impactará a América Latina

Haiti is a country with 11.2 million inhabitants. It is considered the poorest country in America and has been submerged in a social, economic, and political crisis for many years. It is a crisis that does not seem to have a near end and that has forced thousands of its inhabitants to migrate in search of countries that offer them asylum and better opportunities. The United States is the most attractive destination for migrants, who in the midst of despair, cross entire countries on foot, with children in their arms, to try to be received there.

Despite the promises of the Biden government aimed at changing Trump's immigration policies, recognized for their brutality and racism, the crisis with Haitians has become an Achilles heel of the new government, which has made it the target of criticism. On September 17, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers, under the leadership of Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Nydia Velázquez of New York, signed a letter requesting the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the deportation of Haitians.

One of the most controversial aspects of the deportation of Haitians is the mechanism that the Department of Homeland Security has used for their expulsion. They have invoked a public health law for COVID-19, known as Title 42, which the Trump administration invoked in 2020 to practically seal the borders, to stop the entry of Haitians, and send them back to their homeland.

In this way, people are denied the opportunity to request asylum in the United States, despite the fact that on May 22, just 4 months ago, the Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced a new designation of Haiti for 18 months. for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). "After careful consideration, we determined that we must do everything possible to support Haitian citizens in the United States until conditions in Haiti improve so that they can return home safely," Mayorkas said at the time.

Paul O'Brien, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, has stated that "the commitment to humanitarian protections for refugees and asylum seekers is a regrettable failure." This organization calls on the Biden administration to admit at least 200,000 refugees this year and uphold its legal and moral commitment to allow people to apply for asylum in the country.

We recommend you read: What Mistakes Cannot be Repeated in Haiti?

Thousands of migrants seeking asylum waded through the water of the Rio Grande this week along the U.S. Mexico border as they awaited processing. The massive surge in migration, primarily from Haiti, has overwhelmed the authorities and caused significant delays in processing. pic.twitter.com/nYqQR0n5kb

— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 17, 2021

What awaits Latin America?

The phenomenon of large migratory flows of Haitians has not only affected the United States. Obviously, due to its geographical proximity, Mexico has been impacted by this crisis, not only as a passing country but as an alternative to settling. Given the refusal of the United States to receive the more than 14,000 Haitians in recent days, and return them on flights to their country, migration to South America will surely increase.

The crisis caused by COVID-19, the natural phenomena that affect the country, and the recent assassination of the president of Haiti, in which a group of Colombians is involved, has led the island to maximum levels of poverty and political uncertainty.

However, the Haitian diaspora has been going on for more than a decade, since the 2010 earthquake, when many fled to South America. After the employment, health, security, and economic crises that are being experienced in the south of the continent as a result of the pandemic, these migratory movements have been reactivated. Jean Négot Bonheur Delva, the coordinator of the Haitian National Migration Office, told the EFE agency that the migrants from the Rio Grande crisis "are people who have tried to enter the United States through its borders with Mexico. people who lived in Chile, Mexico, Panama, and Brazil in particular. "

Colombia and Panama, in recent years, have become transit countries for the migratory flows of Haitians who travel through the Urabá and the Darien jungles to migrate north. However, these are countries that have not been prepared to provide guarantees for the protection of the human rights of migrants.

Faced with this prospect of instability, logic indicates that Latin American countries must prepare to receive the migratory movements of Haitians. Governments must have plans to comply with humanitarian guarantees, but also to control these flows and prevent economic and social crises.