Mexican Authorities Block Haitian Migrants From Crossing Into US, Seal Off Makeshift Camp
11:27 GMT 24.09.2021 (Updated: 11:32 GMT 24.09.2021)
CIUDAD ACUNA, Mexico (Sputnik) - Armed Mexican National Guard troops and immigration officers on Thursday blocked Haitian migrants from leaving a makeshift camp along the US-Mexican border to seek asylum in the United States, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
At least 200 migrants remained at the makeshift camp at a local park called Parque Ecologico Braulio Fernandez, nestled right on the Rio Grande River that splits the United States and Mexico on the southern border. The park is located across the border from Del Rio, Texas, where nearly 16,000 asylum-seeking migrants,
mostly Haitians, crossed illegally into the United States over the last several days.
Mexican National Guardsmen guarded the entrance to the park to prevent migrants from leaving and several other troops monitored the banks of the Rio Grande river, but one group of migrants managed to cross the river before authorities used their vehicles to seal off parts of the border.
On the US side, some 30 US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, Texas National Guardsmen and Texas state law enforcement officers monitored the banks of the Rio Grande river.
One Haitian who spoke to Sputnik on the background said the Mexican authorities were not letting them leave the park to buy bus tickets. He also said that Ciudad Acuna is dangerous and that some 11 Haitians were recently kidnapped by criminal groups in the town.
Willy Jean, an asylum-seeking migrant from Haiti, told Sputnik that Mexican policemen woke everyone at the camp before sunrise on Thursday morning.
"The people that are here have for now forgot about going to the United States", Jean said. "In the United States they're deporting migrants that's why we don't want to go there. We want to stay in Mexico to work to help our families".
However, Jean pointed out it may take up to four months to get an appointment to request a work visa in Mexico.
"We don't know what to do", Jean added.
Jean said Mexican immigration authorities have started taking Haitian migrants to the Mexican state of Chiapas, which is on the border with Guatemala.
"If they want to take us away, take us somewhere where we can request work so we can help our families and children", Jean said.
Jean said Mexican immigration enforcement might soon remove everyone from the camp in buses, but he had not seen any sign of that happening. He mentioned that one migrant left the camp to get food for his family but was taken away by Mexican immigration enforcement, leaving his wife behind at the park.
"I'm waiting to see what happens, I won't resist [authorities], I know I'm not in my country", Jean said.
Jean came from Chile like many others at the camp have as well.
"In Haiti, things are very, very bad", Jean said. "There's no security, no work, no health, no president, there's nothing".
Jean emphasised that Haiti only has crime and violent gangs.
"Every person that comes here [United States] to look for work and a better life has like five or seven people to support in Haiti", Jean said.
Several of the migrants that spoke to Sputnik mentioned they have family in the United States.
There appeared to be growing frustration at the encampment, and one group of Haitian migrants
were entangled in a loud argument over what to do next.
Peduel, a Haitian migrant, said the situation in the United States is terrible after US immigration authorities deported many of the migrants that recently crossed over.
"We are fine here", Peduel said, adding that the local community has been providing them with food and water. "I heard conditions are very bad [in US camp in Del Rio], but I don't know if that's true or lies".
Peduel left Haiti six years ago and settled in Chile.
Another Haitian migrant, who declined to give his name, said the situation has been difficult for everyone.
"We don't know what to do, no one knows what to do", he said regarding US and Mexican authorities closing off the southern border.
Workers with Doctors Without Borders told Sputnik there has not been any health concerns at the camp, including any issues with the novel coronavirus.
Nearly 16,000 asylum-seeking migrants, mostly from Haiti, arrived to Del Rio over the last week, prompting the Texas government to declare a state of emergency and deploy additional state police officers and National Guardsmen to the region to deter the surge of migrants. About 600 US Border Patrol agents were also sent to the region to handle the influx of migrants.