Haitian Trip To Texas Border Often Starts In South America
Speaker 1: 00:00 In recent days and international bridge along the us Mexico border and the town of Del Rio, Texas has become the epicenter of a wave of migration by Haitians attempting to reach the United States. Haiti faces ongoing instability due to the assassination of the country's president earlier this year, along with echoes of several natural disasters, going back to the devastating earthquake in 2010, these and other factors have led citizens of the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere to seek opportunities elsewhere, including in the San Diego Tijuana border region. We are joined today by Elliot SPAG at San Diego correspondent with the associated press who has been covering this developing story. Elliot, welcome. Speaker 2: 00:43 Thanks. Good to be here. This latest Speaker 1: 00:46 Wave of Haitian migration is centered near a bridge in a small town in Texas called Del Rio. What is the situation here in the San Diego Tijuana border region? Speaker 2: 00:55 There's a very large camp, uh, probably, uh, 2000 migrants, uh, largely the were initially Haitians and central Americans have not been there myself recently, but I understand it's become more Mexican. Of course, Tijuana was the initial. Uh, it's still probably the most popular destination for Haitians who left the country after the 2010 earthquake, uh, for south America, mostly Brazil and Chile, and that they make their way up by foot on bus through about eight to 10 countries to the U S border. The first large influx that we saw was in 2016 in Tijuana, uh, most people were, were released into San Diego on humanitarian grounds and then president Barack Obama shifted course, and a very large population was sort of stranded at the border. Uh, in Tijuana, they have many of Mexican residency they've, they've married and had children in Mexico, uh, working at the Makilah Dora's Haitian restaurants, a very vibrant community, a little neighbor, Haiti neighborhood, but then the other thing that's happened is they've moved to different locations along the border with the ultimate goal of getting to the United States. So there was a large presence in Ciudad Juarez earlier this year across from El Paso. And then of course, this very sudden arrival in Sudan Akuna, which is across the border from Del Rio as town of 35,000. That as of last weekend had 15,000 migrants camped under the bridge. So equal to most half the town, mostly Haitian migrants. Speaker 1: 02:24 Hmm. And are we seeing an influx of Haitian migrants here? Speaker 2: 02:27 Yes. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but there has been an increase not just of Haitians, but uh, you know, every, every nationality in particular, the people from countries outside of the traditional sending countries, which would be Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, from those four countries that I mentioned, they're, they're going to get most likely, or certainly if you're a single adult will get expelled back to Mexico under this pandemic related authority, but they cannot do that with the Haitians and people Ecuadorians is another very large presidents in the United States. Uh, they just don't have the, the resources, but on Sunday, the a, B, B in response to this very, very unusual situation in Del Rio, the U S started a deportation flights today it's or expulsion flights. I should call them as this, the technical term to Haiti. There was supposed to be seven today. There were three on, on Sunday they've been building up. So it's, it's shaping up to be one of the largest expulsion efforts of migrants and refugees in the United States in decades. Speaker 1: 03:28 What is the root of the latest wave of Haitian migration to the U S Speaker 2: 03:33 And the nineties? It was by C uh, they were intercepted by the coast guard and taken to Guantanamo bay, or just sent back since the earthquake in 2010 had been flying to central America. They were many, many in Brazil, uh, until the Olympics, uh, ended and the jobs dried up. And that's, again, when I mentioned the, uh, this, this large push to Tijuana, that was people, many people who had been working in Brazil. And then when the economy went south, they, uh, they came up to Tijuana Speaker 1: 04:02 For a Haitian migrant who arrives at the U S Mexico border today. What can they expect and what options do they have? Speaker 2: 04:10 Uh, great question. Um, the short answer is, I don't know, because the abide by administration has been very opaque about what, what is planted, what is doing, uh, even, you know, the question of who is being put on the flights to Haiti and who is being released. Uh, as far as I can tell from the two U S officials, it's predominantly single adults that are getting expelled. If you're a family, uh, especially, you know, one with the young children pregnant, LGBT disabled, uh, I would think, and this is just based largely on past practice. You're, you're more likely to get released in the United States. Speaker 1: 04:46 Hmm. What are you hearing from Haitians living in Tijuana about the current situation? Speaker 2: 04:52 The reporter there on Monday, who was, went to a restaurant there on the border, a Haitian restaurant, and there were a lot of, a lot of Haitians there who were just trying to get the latest. Um, they tend to communicate on social media, Facebook, WhatsApp, tell telegram, uh, even YouTube videos. Uh, and, you know, the, the one person we talked to, uh, in depth was, uh, had just arrived in Tijuana Sunday night, had hoped to go to Del Rio, but had picked up on social media that, you know, everything that was going on and decided that it wasn't, it wasn't the best place and, uh, and came to Ana. So I think, I think people in Tijuana, um, you know, need to do a little more reporting, but I think they're probably reluctant. The Haitians in Tijuana are reluctant to go to Del Rio at this time, given, uh, given the expulsion flights and all of the chaos there. Speaker 1: 05:40 Hmm. And what is the outlook for Haitians here and the local border region? I mean, our officials expecting an influx similar to what has been seen in Texas. Speaker 2: 05:50 No. Um, but you know, the Texas situation happened very, very suddenly. Uh, and as I mentioned, a population that moves around a lot, we'll move from Tijuana to El Paso to Yuma is another area where they've been maybe back to Tijuana, uh, and, and it's really kind of a mysterious how they make these decisions. So some kind of group psychology. So I wouldn't want to predict. Speaker 1: 06:15 And do you see anything to suggest that the current wave of migration to the U S will slow anytime soon? Speaker 2: 06:21 No, I don't. Um, you know, uh, Biden president Biden, uh, ended a number of policies that were, uh, that he considered cruel and inhumane most notably the remain in Mexico policy where, uh, asylum seekers were forced to wait in Mexican border cities like Tijuana for their court hearings in San Diego, and in very dangerous conditions that was taken away, but there was really no system putting in its place. I mean, president Biden has talked repeatedly about creating a humane asylum system. We don't know what that looks like yet, uh, eight months into his term, and he has made some moves, uh, but really what needs to happen, I think, is a wholesale reconfiguration of the asylum system. If what we're saying today, uh, and in the last several years of these, these periodic increases very large increases in people. If that's going to change, um, they need to sort of remake the asylum system. Speaker 1: 07:19 I've been speaking with associated press correspondent, Elliot SPAG at Elliott. Thank you very much for joining us today. Speaker 2: 07:25 Thank you, Jay.