How Haitians ended up in Texas camp By Reuters
© Reuters. As they await processing, migrants seeking asylum in America walk along the Rio Grande near the International Bridge. This is Ciudad Acuna (Mexico), September 17, 2021. Migrants cross back and forth into Mexico to buy food and
By Alexandra Ulmer
CIUDAD ACUÑA, Mexico (Reuters) – Haitians camped out under a Texas bridge followed instructions circulated on WhatsApp to get there, according to a dozen migrants who said the tips delivered to their phones helped them evade checks by Mexican authorities.
Over 10,000 migrants, most of them Haitians, were as of Friday sleeping on the ground in a squalid camp under the Del Rio International Bridge connecting Ciudad Acuña, Mexico to Del Rio, Texas, hoping to apply for U.S. asylum.
Questions have arisen about the rapid growth of this camp, with at least 2000 people arriving on Thursday.
Interviews with Haitians revealed that they were starting their journeys from the same place where they lived in South America for some time. They presented Reuters several guidebooks they had kept on their phones. Some were just lists of Mexican towns, while others gave detailed directions on which bus to take. All culminated in Rio Grande del Rio, Texas.
James Pierre, 28, shared a WhatsApp list of 15 stops through Mexico – starting in Huixtla, Chiapas, and ending in Ciudad Acuña – that he said was circulating among Haitian migrants.
“Those ahead of me sent directions by telephone. Pierre explained that he assisted those who came behind him. Pierre said that he lost his way for many days and lived on water and fruits.
An image was shared Friday by a migrant, who included details on how to travel through Mexico on buses. He also provided information about where to buy tickets and which terminals they should get off at. The same instruction was also shared by several other Haitians.
These are routes that you won’t need to provide any documentation when purchasing travel tickets.
Groups of Haitians and other migrants who were frustrated with a long wait for travel documents tried to leave https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/hundreds-migrants-depart-southern-mexico-caravan-protest-slow-asylum-process-2021-08-28 southern Mexico in caravans https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/new-migrant-caravan-sets-off-us-southern-mexico-2021-09-04 weeks ago.
Those groups were broken up https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-officials-cut-off-new-migrant-caravan-breaking-up-main-group-2021-09-05 by security forces that in some cases deployed excessive violence. One video widely circulated on social media showed Mexican immigration agents https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-condemns-violent-actions-by-migration-agents-caught-video-2021-08-30 knocking to the ground and repeatedly stamping on a migrant. Both agents were immediately suspended.
U.S. border officers have struggled with an increasing number of migrants crossings. The number of migrants crossing the border between America and Mexico has risen to 200% in just 20 years. In August, there were 195,000 such encounters.
LEAVING SOUTH AMERICA
Many of the Haitians interviewed by Reuters said they used to live in South America, often Brazil or Chile, but decided to move on because they could not attain legal status there or struggled to secure decent jobs. Some Haitians claimed that videos posted on social media showed them being encouraged to seek asylum in the United States.
Since the beginning of time, their Caribbean homeland has suffered from economic and political instability as well repeated natural catastrophes. In July, Haiti’s president had been assassinated. The country also suffered from a powerful storm and an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude.
Haitian Alexandro Petitfrere (aged 30) stated that after leaving a hard life in Brazil as a worker on construction sites, he believed Mexico could be his new home.
Petitfrere claims that $100 was taken from him by Tapachula police officers as he crossed into the south. Reuters couldn’t confirm this allegation.
According to him, he was forced to wait in long lines to obtain a permit for the area. He also claimed that he couldn’t find employment and could not afford housing.
“If Mexico had offered me a chance, I would have gone. Petitfrere explained that because of their mistreatment, he decided to go here.