Haitian migrant describes perilous journey to US, Mexico border

Crystal Cranmore Image
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Haitian migrant describes perilous journey to U.S.-Mexico border
Through the eyes of a 27-year-old man from Haiti, too afraid to share his identity, he says he lived in a town called Tapachula, Mexico before continuing the trek to Ciudad Acuna.

FLATBUSH, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A Haitian migrant who made the perilous journey from Haiti to Del Rio is sharing the harrowing details in this Eyewitness News exclusive interview.

"We went through a lot of difficulties. Suffering hunger, no place to stay," one migrant said.

The harrowing four-year journey to the United States from Chile, spanned across 10 countries to get to Mexico.

Through the eyes of a 27-year-old man from Haiti, too afraid to share his identity, he says he lived in a town called Tapachula, Mexico before continuing the trek to Ciudad Acuna.

"They put us in jail for many days, they don't give you a place to take a shower," he said.

The Mexican border community sits just across from Del Rio, Texas along the Rio Grande, where thousands of Haitian migrants are encamped near a bridge after making the same, dangerous journey.

He made it to Del Rio four weeks ago.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent state-owned vehicles to Del Rio to create a "steel wall" at the border. Democrats are angry the Biden administration used a Trump-era rule to allow deportations.

"When you're on American soil it feels like deliverance," he said.

He's been living with a sponsor in Brooklyn since September 4 -- granted temporary stay in the U.S. for one year.

According to immigration authorities, there are more than 4,000 Haitians who are lawful permanent residents in the Tri-State area, and he's hoping to become one of them.

"From about May 27 to now, I've helped at least 500 people," said Jory Charles of Haitian Americans United for Progress.

The recent influx in migrants are forcing attorneys at the Haitian Americans United for Progress in Flatbush to hire more staff.

Many migrants who walk through the doors are hoping to qualify for temporary protected status.

The Biden administration extended TPS for Haitians already living in the U.S.

Still thousands have attempted to make it into America even though they don't qualify for the program.

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"I don't think those people were expecting to be met with maybe harsh force, they thought they were doing something they were somewhat entitled to," Charles said.

While many Haitian migrants have been released in the U.S., thousands have been deported under Title 42, an emergency public health order that enabled the government to immediately turn away migrants during the pandemic.

"We are putting pressure on our federal government," Councilwoman Farah Louis said.

Louis joined Senator Charles Schumer and others, calling for an end to mass expulsions. She's headed to the Texas border on Wednesday.

"Our goal is to defend Haitians coming into this country, most importantly they need legal services right now," Louis said.

"They are going back to a nightmare. To a country where there is gang violence, no jobs," Foundation for the Emancipation of Women and Girls Founder Monalisa Ferrari said.

And a country still reeling after an earthquake and presidential assassination.

Haitian advocates say they are hoping for equity in the way Americans welcome immigrants.

"At least if you can't receive us into the country, at least treat us with respect and dignity," one migrant said.

Looking for the American dream.


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