Thousands of Haitian asylum seekers have been left “trapped” in Mexico following the Biden’s administration’s mobilization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which led to the shutdown of the US-Mexico border.
The shutdown means that Haitians hoping to find asylum in the United States have been left to the mercy of Mexico’s anti-Black police force as they desperately wait for the border to reopen.
“The discrimination is very strong from other migrants, but even from Mexican organisations working in the camp,” Arold*, a Haitian activist who has been documenting abuses against the community in Tijuana and delivers food and other aid to Haitian asylum seekers, told Al Jazeera. “Nobody wanted to share the food being distributed with them [the Haitian camp residents],” he said.
A rule known as “Title 42” blocks the entry of any asylum-seekers into the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, U.S. authorities deported dozens of Haitians to the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez from El Paso, Texas. The deportations were confirmed by Luis Garcia, a director at the Chihuahua state government agency COESPO in Mexico.
“The situation seems somewhat extraordinary for us, because they don’t speak Spanish, and it puts them in a situation in which they are increasingly exposed to risk,” Garcia said at the time.
That same month, Guerline Josef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said she did not understand why the Biden would be deporting Haitians back to their home country. She confirmed that Haitians had been targeted.
“After a couple of weeks we started seeing some anti-Black sentiment growing within the camp,” she said. “And increasingly, we have seen the vulnerability of Black migrants in Mexico, in Tijuana, the way they can be targeted, they cannot blend in. The moment they show up, they know they don’t belong there.”
So far, Biden has ignored calls from fellow Democrats to issue a new round of Temporary Protected Status protections for Haitian immigrants in the U.S.