Federal authorities announced Monday that after a large influx of migrants overtook the southwestern border during much of the spring/summer, October’s unauthorized crossings were down for the third consecutive month. The number of Haitians also fell by more than 90%.
Analysts at the border said that the drop in Haitian apprehensions may be temporary. Tens of thousands of Haitians were still trekking north from South America, or were stuck in Mexico, hoping to reach the United States.
The U.S. Border Patrol intercepted 163,303 people along the border with Mexico. This is a 14 percent drop from September.
There were 902 Haitians in that group, compared to more than 17,600 migrants who crossed in September. Many of them were living in terrible conditions near Del Rio, Texas after wading across Rio Grande. The September surge was a quick challenge for the Biden government. It responded quickly with dozens of deportation flight that returned more than 8,500 Haitians home, while others were allowed to stay or were expelled from a short distance to Mexico.
Officials of the Biden administration claimed that the deportations were consistent within its enforcement policy. Human rights activists condemned the sometimes harsh treatment of migrants and the speedy removals. They said that desperate migrants were being sent back to a country that was ravaged by natural catastrophes and a security and political crisis.
“It’s clear that the recent spike in Haitian expulsions provided a short-term deterrent,” said Jessica Bolter, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “It’s less clear that it will have a long-term effect.”
“We have seen in the past periods when migrants were willing to pause and wait and see what the new situation was on the ground before continuing on their journeys north,” Ms. Bolter said.
After former President Donald J. Trump took office, unauthorized entries across the U.S.-Mexico border tumbled, only to steadily rise again as migrants realized that Mr. Trump’s pledge to build a border wall would take time, and that not everyone would be deported, she said.
Mexican authorities have tried to stop Central Americans and Haitians from travelling north to the United States under U.S. pressure over the last month.
Independent estimates suggest that at least 20,000 Haitians are currently stranded near the Guatemalan border in Tapachula. The majority of them were previously residents of Chile, where immigration policies have become more restrictive, or Brazil, which has seen its economy devastated by the coronavirus epidemic.
Haitians are now the majority of asylum applicants in Mexico. However, their goal in most cases it to get the documents that will allow them advance to the United States is not to be a priority. Only after they have registered are Haitians allowed travel within Mexico.
The Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance had received approximately 38,000 asylum requests from Haitians in 2021 as of November 1, and more than 20,000 during the months August, September, and October. This influx created a long backlog.
“The numbers of Haitians has come down because Mexico is preventing people from leaving Tapachula to continue their journey to the Mexican-U.S. border,” said Guerline Jozef, executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, an advocacy group.
“They cannot leave the area without proper documentation,” she said. “If they try, they will be detained by Mexican authorities.”
She claimed that the influx of thousands of Haitians to the U.S. border in September was due to misinformation. Many believed they would be allowed into the country.
Unauthorized crossings of other countries also occurred in October.
Many people from Brazil and Ecuador were able, thanks to their visa-free entry to Mexico, to travel by air to Mexico. There, smugglers met them and helped them cross the border.
Mexico has been requiring Ecuadoreans to obtain visas for the past month. This likely accounts for a drop in illegal crossings of people from Ecuador into the United States. In September, arrivals dropped to 744 from 7,353. Mexico will require visas from Brazilians starting this month.
The number of arrivals in Nicaragua increased to 9,212, up from 7,298 in September. And the same for Venezuela, which saw a rise to 13,406 compared to 10,814 the month before. Both countries have been plagued by political instability.
“Clearly the pressure imposed by the U.S. on Mexico to increase its own enforcement and tighten its visa policies has had an impact on very recent migration flows,” Ms. Bolter said. “Ultimately, this is still a region that is facing economic and political crises and we will continue to see migration from the region to the United States.”
In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, more than 1.7million illegal migrants were intercepted by the U.S. Border Patrol. This is the highest number since at least 1960 when such entries were first tracked by the government.
However, many were repeat crossers — migrants who had been quickly expelled to Mexico under a pandemic emergency measure known as Title 42, only to try again and again.
29 percent of those who crossed last month had attempted at least one other crossing in the 12 months prior.
Source: NY Times