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Haitians in US-Mexico border town struggle to find shelter, meet basic needs

By The Haitian Times

Hundreds of Haitians asylum seekers live on the streets of Reynosa, unable to afford rent or find accommodation at a local shelter. / Photo Credit: Robox91/Creative Commons

BROOKLYN — Hundreds of Haitians are living on the streets of Reynosa, Mexico, just south of the border with the United States, according to reports from local media.

“Most of them face the challenge of not being able to speak Spanish to be able to communicate with local residents, but also the lack of federal assistance,” Ricardo Calderón Macías, regional representative of Migrant Tamaulipas Institut told La Tarde, a local online publication. 

Due to its proximity to the U.S., many Haitians who left Tapachula after receiving migration documents relocated to Reynosa looking for an opportunity to cross the border.

As of April 2022, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 5,483 Haitians trying to cross into the U.S., twice as many as the previous month, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection

At the current pace, the number of Haitian apprehensions along the U.S. border will surpass 2021’s record high of 47,255.

The influx of Haitian asylum seekers has saturated social services in the city, with 2,000 people living in shelters, according to La Tarde.  With the shelters at capacity, many Haitians have pitched tents in the surrounding area.

“We don’t have money to rent, nor do we have space at a shelter,” an unidentified asylum seeker told La Tarde. “We wanted to stay here for security. We travel with children. Some are by themselves and sleep under the trees, which is very risky.”

An additional shelter is being built, according to La Tarde, but it is not clear when it will be completed. 

Tapachula is a city in the southern state of Chiapas, 20 miles from Guatemala,where most migrants enter Mexico to request asylum, which grants them protection against deportation. After their asylum cases are resolved — a process that can take months — they head north.

While many Haitians choose to stay in Tijuana or Mexicali where they can find work in the textile industry, others attempt to cross the border into the US.

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