Haitian immigrants regain hope in Mexico

Ciudad Acuña (Mexico) (AFP)

Mexico is a beacon of hope for the nearly 300 Haitian immigrants who remained at the US border after the country’s government refused to take them in.

“The truth is that we want to thank the Mexican government for everything they have done,” said Elfred Alcide, 26, who, like other Haitians, wants to take advantage of the opportunity to stay in Mexico.

The dream of arriving in the United States is over, but now they are energized and even smiling as they clean and organize their things in a shelter provided by the government of Ciudad Acuña (Coahuila, North) where they will spend the next few days while they resolve their immigration status.

The spectacle is the finale of a week that caught the world’s attention on the international bridge linking Ciudad Acuña with Del Rio, in the United States, where some 15,000 Haitians reside on both sides of the border with Mexico desperately seeking asylum in it. North country.

Repression and subsequent mass deportations led hundreds of them to take refuge on the Mexican side, in a park on the banks of the Rio Grande, where they were exposed to sweltering heat of the day, cold nights, and other hardships.

“Most of us were really sick because of the conditions we were in there,” says Alkid, who has leadership skills within the group.

He was among the most demanding of guarantees from the Mexican authorities when they offered to relocate them, a day after telling them they needed to return to Tapachula, on Mexico’s southern border.

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“[Sentí] So afraid (…) the authorities had a different word, “remember.” We didn’t want to believe any of them, so we were very suspicious.”

The crisis came to a head on Friday when Haitians on both sides of the border withdrew.

AFP confirmed that after the outcome, Mexican authorities reopened the passage across the international bridge between Acuña and Del Rio on Saturday afternoon.

– Adaptation –

Tapachula, 2,500 kilometers south of Ciudad Acuña, has been described by Haitians as “hell,” saturated with tens of thousands of Central Americans and their compatriots, who are barely surviving amid a lack of work and stagnant immigration procedures.

Once inside the Ciudad Acuña sanctuary, many Haitians are seen sweeping and pouring water into the complex’s large courtyard, to mend the dusty environment.

On the patio sides, many gather around tables where they can grab donated clothes, canned food, and cleaning products such as deodorant or shampoo. Many children are running and playing.

Haitians gather clothes and food at a shelter in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on September 25, 2021 Pedro Pardo AFP

There is a line for the Medicare area, where at least a number of specialists offer consultations and provide various items, from pain relievers and other essential medications, to condoms or toothbrushes.

“They are young and haven’t caused serious illnesses so far as I’ve noticed,” Luz Maria Rizzo, MD, says of the health status of the Haitians.

Currently, no cases of covid-19 have been detected in the cluster, says Adriana Macias, an epidemiologist from Ciudad Acuña, but if it does, infected people will be sent to buildings prepared by the mayor’s office for quarantine.

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He adds: “The intention now is to provide medical advice to them in general, as well as to disclose whether any of the people coming from abroad have any disease that may be contagious.”

– Document in hand –

Ernso Nebeus, 33, said he was satisfied with the operation of the new shelter, which saved his young son from harassment and mosquito bites in the park where they camped.

“He’s so good,” he says, “they bring clothes, all things. I love him, he’s so quiet.”

The main issue for Caribbean residents remains the organization of their stay in Mexico, a process that could start on Sunday or Monday with the arrival of staff from immigration and the Mexican Refugee Aid Commission (Kumar), they have been told.

A young Haitian man looks out of a tent in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on September 25, 2021
A young Haitian man looks out of a tent in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on September 25, 2021 Pedro Pardo AFP

“I don’t see the need to go to the US now, what we want is to stay here, so we can organize our documents and we can look for work and have the opportunity to live with our families,” Alkid insists.

When asked if he was 100% sure he had resolved his situation, the Haitian said he had not yet.

“As long as I don’t have a document saying I can distribute, 100% no, but we’re 80% sure,” Alcide says.

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