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US considering returning Haiti migrants to homeland amid border surge
19 September 2021, 16:54
Thousands have been crossing the border from Mexico.
The United States could begin flying some of the thousands of Haitian migrants who have crossed from Mexico into a Texas border camp back to their poverty-stricken homeland, hoping to deter others from crossing into the country.
Many of the migrants have lived in Latin America for years but now are seeking asylum in the US as economic opportunities in Brazil and elsewhere dry up.
Thousands have been living under and near a bridge in the Texas border city of Del Rio, and many of them said they will not be deterred by the US plans.
Some said the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moise make them afraid to return to a country that seems more unstable than when they left.
“In Haiti, there is no security,” said Fabricio Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian who arrived in Texas with his wife and two daughters.
“The country is in a political crisis.”
A US official said the US would likely fly migrants out of the country starting Sunday on five to eight flights a day.
Another official expected no more than two flights a day.
The first official said operational capacity and Haiti’s willingness to accept flights would determine the number of flights.
Scores of people waded back and forth across the Rio Grande on Saturday, re-entering Mexico to purchase water, food and nappies in Ciudad Acuna before returning to the Texas encampment.
Junior Jean, a 32-year-old man from Haiti, watched as people cautiously carried cases of water or bags of food through the knee-high river water.
Mr Jean said he lived on the streets in Chile the past four years, resigned to searching for food in garbage cans.
“We are all looking for a better life,” he said.
Haitian prime minister Ariel Henry wrote on Sunday on Twitter that he is concerned about conditions at the border camp and that the migrants would be welcomed back.
“We want to reassure them that measures have already been taken to give them a better welcome upon their return to the country and that they will not be left behind,” he tweeted.
Mr Henry did not provide details about the measures.
A Haitian government spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.