By Alexandra Ulmer
CIUDAD ACUÑA, Mexico (Reuters) – Eddyson Langlais, 24, was huddled under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas, alongside thousands of fellow Haitian migrants on Friday night, when he saw news on Facebook (NASDAQ:) that felt like a gut punch: The United States was going to fly Haitians back to their homeland.
His parents, Port-au-Prince residents who share a tiny house in Haiti with several of their cousins, called him immediately. He called his father, a taxi driver, to inform him that he was unable work because his car had broken down. His mother, who sells bread on the streets, also spoke out.
According to Langlais, they said that they would deport him.
Langlais conferred with his wife, fellow Haitian Lovelie Exantus, whom he’d met when they were both living in a poor Haitian-dominated neighborhood in Santiago, Chile. Langlais made $300 per month as a welding worker, with some going back to Haiti.
Exantus didn’t know what to do either. They lay down, but Langlais could not sleep at all as he lay awake under the bridge across the Rio Grande that connects Ciudad Acuña, Mexico to Del Rio, Texas.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Saturday that they were addressing an influx of migrants to Del Rio, mostly Haitian. This included accelerating expulsion flights from Haiti to other destinations in the next 72 hours. DHS stated that the Biden administration is working with the countries from which the migrants began their journey – many Haitians are in Brazil or Chile – to receive the returned migrants.
Many Haitian migrants in the process of being processed fled to safety, as they wanted to avoid the poverty and turmoil back home. The economy was devastated by earthquakes, coronavirus, political unrest, and other factors. The Caribbean island ranks among the most impoverished in the Western Hemisphere.
As migrants flooded back and forth from Mexico, to obtain supplies, to Texas, to wait for processing, Saturday morning Langlais contemplated what she should do.
I am the one supporting my family. He stated that if he went back, he would starve to death.
He said that Mexico was not a place he could live in. When he arrived in Tapachula, he tried to get work there in September. He was in the southern part of Guatemala, near the Guatemalan border. Supermarkets turned him away, he said, because he didn’t have proper work papers. Because officials were constantly moving appointments, Langlais stated that it could have taken many months to obtain them. “If I have to wait for months for the paper, I’m going to die.”
Langlais, who spoke in English, said he’d worked as an informal interpreter for missionaries in Haiti. According to Langlais, he had always hoped to travel to America to study welding.
Holding two bags of sliced bread he’d just bought on the Mexican side, Langlais hesitated for a few minutes under the punishing sun, before making up his mind.
“I think I’ll go to America. I’m going to pray to god, because that has the power.”