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Haitians head to northern Mexico town, await asylum chance in US


Hundreds of Haitians asylum seekers live on the streets of Reynosa, unable to afford rent or find accommodation at a local shelter. Photo by Robox91/Creative Commons

Thousands of migrants, many Haitians among them, living in a northern Mexican town while waiting for an opportunity to cross into the United States have begun to overwhelm the city, according to local media. Housing facilities in particular are at capacity in Reynosa, a town bordering the town of McAllen, Texas, about 240 miles south of San Antonio. 

“​​In the shelters we’re working at, there are nearly 4,000 [migrants],” said Chloe Tastatter, co-founder of Solidarity Engineering, a group that helps coordinate infrastructure projects in Reynosa. “There are thousands more throughout the city who either sleep on the streets or compacted in small apartments.”

Because of the long waits, many Haitians in Reynosa have joined the informal economy, selling chicken kebabs, fruit and other items in order to survive, according to La Tarde, a Reynosa online publication. When available, some join employment programs sponsored by the local government. 

Yet, some say, helping the Haitians remains challenging.

“I think one big barrier that we’re having in Reynosa is the language barrier,” said Tastatter. “It’s really difficult to organize adequately and communicate what we need with the Haitian [people].”

Many of the Haitian migrants are believed to be coming from Tapachula in southern Mexico, where they request asylum and often receive immigration documents that allow them to leave the point of entry, according to Mexican Law. Many then relocate to various towns in northern Mexico looking for an opportunity to cross the border and seek asylum in the U.S.

Indicating renewed efforts on the part of Haitians to cross into the U.S, border apprehensions of Haitians have been doubling since March 2022, according to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP. As of May 2022, the U.S. Border Patrol reported 10,418 apprehensions of Haitian nationals — including people stopped during their first or second attempt — trying to cross into the U.S. That’s nearly double the previous month’s figures, according to the CBP.

To date for the whole year, CBP has reported making 23,290 Haitian apprehensions, mostly in the area of El Paso and Laredo, both border towns in Texas, according to CBP data. At the current pace, Haitian apprehensions along the U.S. southern border will surpass the 2021 record of 55, 403.

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