Haiti has become the leading country of origin for people seeking asylum in Mexico this year, surpassing Honduras which had recently led migration figures.
The number of annual refugee requests from Haiti has climbed to almost 38,000, with the rate increasing after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July and a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that struck the country’s southwest in mid-August.
However, many of the migrants are arriving at Mexico’s southern border, where the system has become strained.
Delays in asylum processing, especially in the Tapachula offices where almost 69% of applications have been received, have led to a series of protests and thousands of Haitians leaving the city to try to continue their journey north.
Outside the offices of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) on Wednesday, a crowd of people waited for updates on their requests.
Asylum Access, together with Amnesty International, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and the Mexican Human Rights Center Fray Matias de Cordova, said countries in the Americas are turning their backs on Haitians while the political and economic situation continues to deteriorate in their country.
“Mexico should look for solutions to regularize this population,” said Daniel Berlin, deputy director of Asylum Access Mexico, “they should not participate in deportations for this population to Haiti, nor to other countries that are not voluntary.”
Those who remain in Mexico find it difficult to regularize their situation.
According to data from COMAR, only 40% receive some type of protection, compared to the massive acceptance given to Venezuelans, of whom 97% of their requests are approved, or 87% of those of Hondurans.
Thimoti Ansy, a 27-year-old Haitian nurse from Gonaïve, spent four years in Chile before deciding to head north.
“I’m the hope of my family,” he said, adding he must support his relatives back at home.
So far, thanks to the opening of additional offices in a stadium in Tapachula, appointments have been scheduled for more than 36,000 Haitians in the last five weeks, the first step in a regularization process which, once attended, may take months to conclude.