Their prospects dim, Haitian migrants pressure Mexico’s asylum system

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MEXICO CITY, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Mexico may see asylum functions leap 70% this yr in contrast with 2019 as requests from Haitians soar, although most of these Caribbean migrants don’t meet the standards beneath present guidelines, based on Mexico’s prime asylum official.

Haiti is at present the second-most widespread nation of origin for asylum requests in Mexico, and is on observe to overhaul Honduras to say the highest spot for the primary time in practically a decade.

The surge has been fed by political and financial malaise in Haiti and South America, and final month hundreds of largely Haitian migrants crossed into Del Rio, Texas.

Thousands then retreated again to Mexico to keep away from being deported from the United States to Haiti.

Most Haitians don’t qualify for asylum in Mexico as a result of they left residence years in the past for financial causes, mentioned Andres Ramirez, head of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR).

Most resettled in Brazil and Chile after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake and are heading north resulting from poor financial prospects of their adopted international locations, Ramirez instructed Reuters.

“They’re not really refugees, they don’t even want to be refugees,” Ramirez mentioned in an interview on Monday. “The majority want to get to the United States.”

Haitians had been searching for asylum as a result of that they had no various, however the demand had introduced COMAR to a standstill, which was “detrimental to genuine refugees, who we can’t serve because there are too many Haitians,” he added.

Asylum functions at the moment are taking six to seven months, no less than twice the time they need to take, he mentioned.

In the southern border metropolis of Tapachula, the place most migrants request asylum, COMAR is scrambling to lighten the load by canceling appointments of candidates not there.

COMAR is in talks with Mexico’s migration authorities and worldwide help organizations to see if Haitians have choices for staying in Mexico other than asylum, Ramirez mentioned, akin to humanitarian visas that permit migrants work and journey freely.

Lasting one yr and renewable, that visa is at present solely obtainable to migrants after they apply for asylum with COMAR.

“What concerns me is when I know someone isn’t a refugee, and they come to us because they have no other option,” Ramirez mentioned. “But there could be another way… there is a precedent.”

Mexico distributed humanitarian visas in early 2019 when hundreds of Central Americans arrived in migrant caravans, however stopped after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose commerce tariffs if Mexico didn’t curb the stream of individuals.

The Biden administration can also be placing stress on Mexico to stem migrant visitors, even because it regularly rolls again Trump-era measures and guarantees extra humane migration insurance policies.

Mexico’s National Migration Institute didn’t instantly reply when requested if it was contemplating issuing humanitarian visas to Haitian migrants.

Asylum functions in Mexico from all nationalities reached 90,300 by September. Ramirez estimated the quantity may surpass 120,000 by yr’s finish.

Suppressed by the coronavirus pandemic, functions tumbled to only over 41,000 final yr, however rose for Haitians, who filed 5,957 requests. From January to September 2021, the variety of Haitian functions leapt to 26,007.

An enhance in requests from Brazilians and Chileans has been fueled by kids born to Haitians in these international locations, Ramirez mentioned.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon
Editing by Dave Graham and Alistair Bell

Migrants from Central America, Haiti and Cuba queue outside the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) to apply for asylum and refugee status in Mexico, in Tapachula, Mexico May 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Torres

Migrants from Haiti, who returned to the Mexican side of the border to avoid deportation, queue for breakfast at a shelter set by the National Migration Institute (INM) in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Migrants from Central America, Haiti and Cuba queue outside the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) to apply for asylum and refugee status in Mexico, in Tapachula, Mexico May 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Torres