Mex­ico helps mi­grat­ing Haitians reach U.S. bor­der

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Mex­i­can of­fi­cials are qui­etly help­ing thou­sands of Haitians make their way to the United States il­le­gally, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal Home­land Se­cu­rity doc­u­ment that de­tails the route taken by the mi­grants, the thou­sands of dol­lars paid to hu­man smug­glers along the way and the some­times com­plicit role of the neigh­bor­ing gov­ern­ments of the U.S.

More than 6,000 Haitians ar­rived at the bor­der in San Diego over the past year — a stag­ger­ing eigh­teen­fold in­crease over fis­cal year 2015. Some 2,600 more were wait­ing in north­ern Mex­ico as of last week, and 3,500 oth­ers were not far be­hind, wait­ing in Panama to make the trip north, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments, ob­tained by Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can.

The mi­grants are pay­ing at least $2,350 to be smug­gled from South Amer­ica to the doorstep of the U.S., where many present them­selves at the bor­der and many de­mand asy­lum in an at­tempt to gain a foothold.

“Haitians have forged a dan­ger­ous and clan­des­tine new path to get to the United States,” says the doc­u­ment, which lays out in de­tail the route and the prices paid along the way for smug­glers, bus tick­ets and, where they can be ob­tained legally, tran­sit doc­u­ments.

Their trek be­gins in Brazil and traces a 7,100-mile route up the west coast of South Amer­ica and Cen­tral Amer­ica, cross­ing 11 coun­tries and tak­ing as long as four months.

Some coun­tries are more wel­com­ing than oth­ers, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, which was re­viewed by The Wash­ing­ton Times. Nicaragua is listed as be­ing par­tic­u­larly vig­i­lant about de­port­ing the Haitian mi­grants if they are caught, so smug­glers there charge $1,000.

While trav­el­ing through Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries, the Haitians will claim to be from Congo. They be­lieve au­thor­i­ties in Cen­tral Amer­ica aren’t likely to go through the has­sle of de­port­ing them to West Africa if they are caught, the Home­land Se­cu­rity De­part­ment said.

Smug­glers charge $200 through Ecuador and $300 each through Gu­atemala and Colom­bia, the doc­u­ment says.

Mex­ico, though, is more ac­com­mo­dat­ing to the mi­grants. It stops them at its south­ern bor­der in Ta­pachula, pro­cesses them and — though they don’t have le­gal en­try pa­pers — “they re­ceive a 20-day tran­sit doc­u­ment” giv­ing them enough time to get a bus across Mex­ico, ar­riv­ing even­tu­ally in Ti­juana, just south of San Diego.

Once in the United States, many of the Haitians claim asy­lum and fight de­por­ta­tion in cases that can drag on for years, guar­an­tee­ing the mi­grants a foothold in the coun­try. U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices said it re­ceived re­fer­rals to con­duct cred­i­ble fear screen­ings, the first part of an af­fir­ma­tive asy­lum claim, for 523 Haitians over the past year.

Other Haitians who are ap­pre­hended are put on a slow de­por­ta­tion track, giv­ing Haitians stranded in Brazil af­ter the 2010 earth­quake are mak­ing their way to the U.S., en­abled by its neigh­bors to the south — and by smug­glers who charge thou­sands of dol­lars. Ti­juana them a chance to hide in the shad­ows along with other il­le­gal im­mi­grants. South­ern Florida is a par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion for Haitians, the doc­u­ment said.

Haitians are the lat­est na­tion­al­ity to surge into the United States, along with Cen­tral Amer­i­cans en­ticed by the be­lief that lax en­force­ment poli­cies un­der Pres­i­dent Obama will en­able them to stay, even if it means liv­ing in the shad­ows.

“The ex­po­nen­tial in­crease in Haitian mi­grants show­ing up at the south­ern bor­der is truly as­ton­ish­ing, and it shows one of the many con­se­quences of Pres­i­dent Obama’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, which in­vites il­le­gal en­try and ex­ploita­tion of the sys­tem,” said Joe Kasper, chief of staff for Mr. Hunter.

He said he was struck by Mex­ico’s “com­plic­ity” by grant­ing Haitians just enough le­gal pas­sage to reach the United States.

“Mex­ico doesn’t want them, but it’s en­tirely con­tent with putting mi­grants — in Ta­pachula Tegu­ci­galpa Panama City Puntarena this case Haitians — right on Amer­ica’s doorstep,” he said.

The Mex­i­can Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton has not re­sponded to re­peated in­quiries from The Times, dat­ing back to last month, on its role in the Haitian surge.

As many as 75,000 Haitians fled to Brazil af­ter the 2010 earth­quake. About 50,000 re­main, but the rest have left. Dur­ing the past year, a steady stream has headed for the United States.

The Haitian Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton promised to make some­one avail­able to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion but didn’t fol­low through.

U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, the agency that guards the bor­ders and ports of en­try, ac­knowl­edged “an uptick” in Haitians ar­riv­ing with­out per­mis­sion. In fact, the num­bers rose from 339 in fis­cal year 2015 to 6,121 in 2016 — an in­crease of more than 1,800 per­cent.

“While CBP of­fi­cials have made ad­just­ments to port op­er­a­tions to ac­com­mo­date

COLOM­BIA

Tumbe Medellin

BRAZIL

Rio Branco this uptick in ar­riv­ing in­di­vid­u­als, CBP of­fi­cials are used to dy­namic changes at our lo­cal bor­der cross­ings, in­clud­ing San Ysidro, the na­tion’s busiest bor­der cross­ing, and are able to flex re­sources to ac­com­mo­date those changes,” the agency said in a state­ment.

CBP says it pro­cessed the Haitians “on a case-by-case ba­sis” and those that don’t have per­mis­sion to be in the U.S. are sent to Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, the de­por­ta­tion agency.

As of Sept. 24, ICE had 619 Haitians in de­ten­tion.

ICE had been mov­ing slowly on de­por­ta­tions of Haitians un­der a hu­man­i­tar­ian pol­icy in place since the 2010 earth­quake. But on Sept. 21, Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Jeh John­son an­nounced that agents would re­sume rapid de­por­ta­tions of Haitians caught at the bor­der.

Jes­sica Vaughan, pol­icy stud­ies di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, said the num­bers show just how much the smug­gling op­er­a­tions con­trol il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. She said there are faster routes through Mex­ico and into the United States, but the fact that 90 per­cent of them are com­ing to San Diego is ev­i­dence that they have an ar­range­ment, likely with the Si­naloa car­tel.

By is­su­ing tran­sit per­mits, she said, Mex­ico was as­sist­ing the Haitians’ il­le­gal mi­gra­tion and pro­vid­ing a fi­nan­cial boost to the very crim­i­nal car­tels that Mex­i­can of­fi­cials say are threat­en­ing their so­ci­ety.

“I un­der­stand how this col­lu­sion or am­biva­lence to a crim­i­nal phe­nom­e­non works in Mex­ico, but I don’t un­der­stand why the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is let­ting it hap­pen,” she said. “We could shut this down in a hurry sim­ply by telling asy­lum seek­ers that they need to ap­ply in one of the eight or nine safe coun­tries that they passed through on the way. Oth­er­wise, we are just ask­ing to see an­other 160,000 or more ap­pli­cants next year.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Af­ter the 2010 earth­quake, boats were built to trans­port Haitians by the thou­sands to Brazil, which is­sued visas al­low­ing them to work for five years. Now, many Haitians are pay­ing smug­glers to take them 7,100 miles to the U.S. bor­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.