Matthew Gower

Recently, thousands of migrants, many of them Haitian, set up an encampment around the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande river in Del Rio, Texas. United States authorities experienced more than 200,000 migrant encounters in July, according to preliminary data gathered by the Associated Press from Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy David Shahoulian. The total number of encounters in 2021 now surpasses 1,111,000. 

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent hundreds of additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to Del Rio, called in the Coast Guard for reinforcement, and announced the administration’s plans to put migrants on planes and fly them out of the country, including sending many back to Haiti,” according to Politico. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also mobilized hundreds of state troopers and Texas National Guard officers to Del Rio. 

According to the DHS, The United States has sent 2,000 migrants to Haiti on flights under the pandemic public health authority known as Title 42. The DHS also says that some flights transporting families are taking them to be “processed elsewhere,” for those who request asylum to begin the process, as well as nearly 4,000 taken into custody as of Sept. 24 2021. “Some Haitians are being allowed to remain in the US, at least temporarily, to seek asylum or to stay under some other claim of residency, with notices to appear later before immigration authorities,” according to DHS officials.  

Officials in Mexico are also urging Haitians on the Texas border trying to reach the United States to return to Mexico to request asylum in the United States. As of Sept. 24 2021, the makeshift camp has been cleared. 

The same day “The International Organization for Migration (IOM) asked Brazil to receive Haitian migrants camped along the U.S.-Mexico border hoping to enter the United States,” according to a Reuters exclusive. “Without mentioning the IOM request, Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement that “the topic was discussed in conversations between authorities from different countries and is being analyzed in light of current legislation.” 

Fiterson Janvier left Haiti in Aug. 2014 and migrated to Brazil and then to Chile where he met his wife and had a child. His family then decided it was the right time to attempt to reach the United States. 

“We have been through eleven different countries to get here. Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador…” Janvier said. 

On his journey he received news of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti which had killed his mother. The news left Janvier more determined to reach the United States. 

“I had to keep going. My father has no-one now, the only person who can send him money is my brother [in the US] …And I need help too,” he said in an interview with BBC. 

“After Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, many Haitians migrated to Brazil, where they found work and started families. More than 105,000 arrived in Brazil between 2011 and 2018, according to Brazilian government data,” Reuters stated. 

Pressure from the right for United States President Joe Biden and his administration to tighten border restrictions has seen recent increase as immigrant numbers grow almost daily. Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) has begun the process of returning migrants to Tapachula, Mexico so migrants can begin the process of filing asylum applications there. 

“We’re not taking them out of the country,” INM chief Francisco Garduno told Reuters. We’re bringing them away from the border so there are no hygiene and overcrowding problems.” 

Over 12,000 migrants will be able to make their case for protection before United States immigration judges, another estimated 8,000 have voluntarily returned to Mexico, and 2,000 have been expelled, according to US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. These numbers are subject to change in the upcoming days under pandemic powers that can deny people the chance to seek asylum. 

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