FRIDAY 24 SEPTEMBER
A number of people on Twitter have been asking why refugees are congregating at Del Rio, Texas and why most of them are Haitians.
From available sources, this is the best I can do.
A large number of the people congregated at the border around Del Rio, Texas are Haitan. It is estimated that most of these people have not recently fled Haiti, but have lived in Central or South America for several years.
The displacement of Haitians is the result of an increase in human rights violations in the past decade in addition to several disastrous earthquakes and hurricanes. It is estimated that the 2010 earthquake alone displaced1.5 million people.
Initially countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Panama welcomed the immigrants because they provided cheap labor.
But, as the pandemic’s effects caused tightening economic conditions, Haitian immigrants increasingly faced a backlash.
It is thought that for most of these refugees, U.S. residence was always the goal, but an increasingly racist backlash in host countries prompted the current move.
In addition, after Biden took office, immigration rules for Haitians changed. In May, the Biden administration extended temporary protected status for 150,000 Haitians already living in the U.S.
Several experts have argued that many Haitians, in response to the changed immigration rules, mistakenly thought that they would be accepted if they appeared at the border.
Rumors picked up and repeated on social media often cause mass movements of people. For example, shortly after the assassination of Haiti’s president, hundreds of Haitians flocked to the embassy in Port-au-Prince carrying their belongings after false rumors spread on social media that the U.S. was handing out humanitarian visas.
But why Del Rio? The only explanation I can find is that the entry point at Del Rio is not as heavily dominated by the cartels as other entry points. Again, word of mouth and social media posts, likely identified Del Rio as a remote site where refugees were less likely to be victimized by cartel members.
New York Times
The Nation Magazine: Biden’s disastrous deportation of Haitians https://www.thenation.com/podcast/world/biden-haiti-deportation/
AP: Racism in immigration policy https://apnews.com/article/immigration-race-and-ethnicity-mexico-haiti-asylum-seekers-a81ac1148118db38824d2d8f62139b87
- Haitians are granted asylum at a lower level than other national groups.
USA Today: How did so many Haitians End up in Del Rio
- Natural disasters and dysfunctional governments have prompted a steady flow of immigrants.
- The end goal of most was always the U.S.
- 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1.5 million.
- Brazil was facing a labor shortage and therefore welcomed fleeing Haitians.
- Brazil extended residence visas in 2014 and 2016. By August 2020, there were more than 143,000 Haitians in Brazil.
- After the needs for cheap labor ran out, Haitians faced increasing pressure to leave and shrinking opportunities.
- Increasing Human rights violations in Haiti over the past 10 years prompted immigration
- In August, the State Department issued an advisory urging American not to visit Haiti due to “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and covid.
Human Rights Watch
Significant Events in Haiti
2021 August Earthquake
2020 Hurricane Laura
2016 Hurricane Matthew
2012 Hurricane Sandy
2010 Earthquake, Cholera epidemic Port-au-Prince
Significant Political events
1492 – Spain colonises the island of Hispaniola after the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Two hundred years later Spain cedes the western half to France. Plantations worked by slaves of African origin produce sugar, rum and coffee that enrich France.
1801 – Former slave Toussaint Louverture leads a successful revolt and abolishes slavery.
1804 – Haiti becomes independent under former slave Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who is assassinated in 1806.
1915 – United States invades Haiti, withdrawing in 1943 but keeping financial control and political influence.
1937 – In the worst incident of long-standing rivalry with neighbouring Dominican Republic, thousands of Haitians in border area are massacred by Dominican troops on the orders of dictator Trujillo.
1957 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier takes power with military backing, ushering in a period which sees widespread human rights abuses.
1964 – Duvalier declares himself president-for-life. His dictatorship is marked by repression, enforced by the feared Tonton Macoutes secret police.
1971 – Duvalier dies and is succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc”. Repression increases. In the following decades, thousands of Haitian “boat people” flee by sea to Florida, many dying on the way.
1986 – Popular revolt forces Baby Doc to flee Haiti to exile in France. Lieutenant-General Henri Namphy takes over.
1988 – General Prosper Avril takes over from Namphy in a coup.
1990 – Avril declares a state of siege amid protests but resigns ahead of elections under international pressure.
1990 – Former parish priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a leftist champion of the poor, wins Haiti’s first free election. He is ousted in a coup in 1991.
1994 – U.S. troops intervene to oust military regime and Aristide returns. U.N. peacekeepers deploy in 1995 and Aristide protege Rene Preval is elected president.
1999 – Aristide is elected president for a second term despite disputed results.
2004 – Political unrest forces Aristide to flee but the country descends into violence.
2006 – Preval wins election.
2008 – 2010. Series of protests, triggered by food shortages, a cholera outbreak and then over elections.
2010 – A catastrophic earthquake kills between 100,000 and 300,000 people, according to various estimates, causing widespread damage in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. Despite an international relief effort, the country is all but overwhelmed, exacerbating political, social and economic problems.
2011 – Michel Martelly wins second round of presidential election.
2012-14 Frequent anti-government protests fueled by corruption and poverty. Demonstrators demand Martelly resign.
2017 – Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter-turned-politician, is declared winner of 2016 presidential election.
2019 – Moise steadily amasses power and rules by decree after Haiti fails to hold elections due to political gridlock and unrest.
Thousands take to the streets chanting “No to dictatorship” and calling for Moise’s resignation.
Compiled by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Nick Macfie
2021 – Moise is shot dead after gunmen open fire with assault rifles in his private residence on July 7.
2021 – A 7.2-magnitude earthquake strikes western Haiti on Aug. 14, likely causing high casualties and widespread disaster, the U.S. Geological Survey said.