A Haitian human rights advocate told a conference at the Iberoamericana University in Tijuana, Mexico that Haitians and Africans who are flocking to Mexico should begin to consider permanent residence there rather than the United States. Wilner Metelus, who presides over the Citizens Committee for the Defense of the Naturalized and African-Americans, said in his talk that he is worried about “the situation faced by Haitian and African brothers” now that Donald Trump will soon become president of the United States. He noted that on November 10-12, the U.S. deported 70 Haitians, and will deport more.
The objective of the migrants, said Metelus, was to cross into the United States before November 8, even though the issuance of humanitarian parole that preserved them from fast-track deportations ceased on September 22. It was after the devastating earthquake of 2010 that humanitarian parole was granted to Haitians entering through the land port at San Ysidro, California. Humanitarian visas were granted by Brazil at the same time, encouraging more than 90,000 Haitians to seek work and refuge in the South American country. With unemployment now at 10% in Brazil, Haitians and Brazilians are flocking northward to seek employment.
While the numbers of Haitians seeking to enter the U.S. appeared to drop in 2015, this year the numbers increased due to the recession. Tens of thousands of Haitians and Africans, in addition to migrants from Central America, are believed to be on their way to the US/Mexico border. In Tijuana, migrant refuges are at capacity where tents serve as makeshift shelters. Those crossing the border are almost immediately detained by U.S. immigration authorities and placed in detention camps to await deportation via air.
According to Metelus, many migrants from Africa and Haiti have traveled for months from their native countries to seek asylum in the U.S. Faced with the prospect of increased border restrictions under the coming Trump administration, many are now contemplating “Plan B,” said Metelus, and will remain in Mexico. He said they may consider going to the francophone areas of Canada.
In a previous interview with Telemundo, Metelus -- a naturalized citizen of Mexico -- said that the situation facing Haitian migrants and refugees is a time bomb should they not be accepted by the United States. He said that conditions faced by children and pregnant women is especially dire. He asked that the U.S. government to show compassion to them because “Haitians have given a great deal” to the United States.
Over 200 Haitians have been deported over the last few weeks. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “plans to significantly expand removal operations in the coming weeks.” However, Johnson said Haitians currently covered by Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are unaffected by the resumption of deportation. “Specifically, those Haitian nationals who have been continuously residing in the United States since January 12, 2011 and currently hold TPS may remain in the United States and are not subject to removal,” he said in a statement.
“These beneficiaries also remain eligible for employment authorization.”