World View: U.S. Will Deport Tens of Thousands of Haitian Immigrants Surging Toward California

TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Haitian refugees look over donated items at an immigrant center on September 24, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. In recent months a surge of Haitian refugees has arrived to Tijuana, seeking asylum at the border crossing into the United States. The center, called the Desayunador Salesiano …
John Moore/Getty Images

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Surge of nearly 40,000 Haitians on their way to California
  • How Haitians travel to the United States
  • Illinois Rep Luis V. Gutiérrez demands TPS status for Ecuadorians

Surge of nearly 40,000 Haitians on their way to California

From 2004 - Poor neighborhood in Haiti
From 2004 – Poor neighborhood in Haiti

Sarah Saldaña, Director of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that new figures indicate that 40,000 Haitians are on their way to the Mexican border with the United States. Most are headed for Tijuana, from where they expect to cross the border legally to San Diego, California. Once in the United States, they travel to established Haitian communities in New York and Miami.

Following the enormous January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the US granted Haitian nationals “Temporary Protected Status (TPS),” which permits them to live and work in the United States without being subject to deportation.

The following table shows the number of undocumented Haitians arriving in San Diego and Miami as of August 31, 2016:

Year  San Diego   Miami
----  --------    -----
2014    479        249
2015    339        266
2016  4,346        216

There is already an emergency situation on the San Diego border, where 4,346 Haitians have arrived so far this year, while only 216 arrived in all of last year. Saldaña says that information from Central American countries indicates that tens of thousands more are en route. According to Saldaña, many Haitians have been working in Brazil and other South American countries, but are now out of work because of severe economic downturns.

Up until Thursday, Haitians presenting themselves at the US border were allowed into the US under the TPS humanitarian program. But as of Thursday, Haitians seeking entry now are subject to a fast-track process called Expedited Removal that entails immediate detention, likely followed by deportation.

However, that plan will require cooperation with the government of Haiti, which has yet to make a statement. It’s unclear what will happen if Haiti refuses to accept deported immigrants. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the world, and it still hasn’t recovered from the earthquake. Furthermore, Haiti’s government is in chaos, run by acting president Jocelerme Privert after Michel Martelly stepped down as president without a successor. Haiti Libre and LA Times and US Dept. of Homeland Security and Haiti Libre

Related Articles

How Haitians travel to the United States

Research gathered by the Miami Herald shows the path that Haitians take to arrive in the US. The travel begins with a plane trip to Rio de Janeiro in southern Brazil, and continues through 12 countries:

  • Brazil: Haitians arrive in Rio Branco by plane or bus. For about $100, a taxi will take them to Peru’s border.
  • Peru: Travelers head toward Ecuador, starting with a four-day bus trip that costs up to $300 for smugglers to take them to immigration for a $20 transit document. Buses take them to the border for about $130 more.
  • Ecuador: Haitians aim for Tulcan near the Colombian border by bus for $15 or with a smuggler for about $200.
  • Colombia: Haitians start assuming Congolese identities, believing authorities will be reluctant to deport them to West Africa. Smugglers help them cross Colombia for $300 or more.
  • Darien Gap: The route through the roadless swath of tropical rainforest runs about 100 miles and takes four to 20 days to cross on foot. Costly dugout canoe or motorboat rides are also options and they must pay gangs or local Indians for help.
  • Panama: Panama’s border police can turn back travelers at any time while crossing rivers and mountains. Once out of the jungle, travelers take a bus to Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rica: Crossing Costa Rica isn’t a problem but leaving can be. Haitian migrants can spend months at the border trying to get into Nicaragua with the help of a smuggler.
  • Nicaragua: The nation has closed its border to undocumented migrants. Those caught are returned to Costa Rica or spend up to $1,000 to be moved across the country.
  • Honduras: Haitians have been arrested at the border crossing but this is the easiest of the crossings say migrants who take a $30 bus ride to Guatemala.
  • Guatemala: Migrants face detention and have to pay smugglers $300 or more to get through.
  • Mexico: Haitian migrants are often detained before they receive a 20-day transit document. They take a bus from the border to Tijuana, where they go to any of four migrant shelters or a hotel before presenting themselves to U.S. border patrol.
  • San Diego: On the U.S. side of the border, Haitians are helped by a small group of Haitian Americans to find relatives to settle in South Florida.

That is how it used to work, until Thursday. Starting then, the Haitians crossing the border are held in detention until a hearing can be held, after which they’ll be deported. Miami Herald

Related Articles

Illinois Rep Luis V. Gutiérrez demands TPS status for Ecuadorians

A strong earthquake struck Ecuador on April 16 of this year, killing 700, with thousands injured and homeless, leading to demands that Ecuadorians be given the same Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that was granted to Haitians after their 2011 earthquake. According to government figures, there are more than 200,000 undocumented Ecuadoreans in the U.S. among the one million Ecuadoreans residing in the country. Many of those would benefit from the TPS if granted.

Besides Haiti, several Latin American countries have TPS status. El Salvador has had TPS status since 2001 because of a devastating earthquake. Nicaragua and Honduras have had TPS status since a hurricane that happened 18 years ago.

According to a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL):

My constituents and I would greatly appreciate knowing what exactly the State Department recommended to DHS on this matter,” the Congressman wrote today to Secretary Kerry. “In the interests of transparency, especially for the numerous Ecuadorian nationals living in the U.S. and those U.S. citizens with strong ties to Ecuador, I urge you to make public the recommendation that was made by State to DHS regarding TPS… Citizens of Ecuador and citizens of the United States deserve to know how the U.S. government is deliberating – or failing to deliberate – a TPS designation.

Gutiérrez added that “People’s lives hang in the balance.” Lawndale (Ill) News (1-Sep) and Telesur TV (18-May-2016) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Haiti, Temporary Protected Status, TPS, Tijuana, San Diego, Miami, Sarah Saldaña, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jocelerme Privert, Michel Martelly, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Darian Gap, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatamela, Mexico, Luis V. Gutiérrez
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail