Biden’s immigration policy is hampering Haiti’s recovery from back-to-back crises

“Already grappling with coronavirus, a political crisis stemming from President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination last month and resulting gang violence, Haiti was hit with a two-punch 7.2-magnitude earthquake and tropical depression this week, leaving almost 2,000 dead and thousands more injured or missing.

Thousands are without shelter because some 83,000 homes have been destroyed. International aid has been slow to arrive, delayed by Tropical Storm Grace’s heavy rains, and some Haitians are frustrated that their own government hasn’t done enough to help.

Also of little help has been the United States, one of the contributors to Haiti’s political and economic troubles, which has the ability to aid Haitians attempting to flee the country due to its three most recent crises, but has instead prevented them from accessing the protection to which many of them are entitled.

The Biden administration has sent a search and rescue team to the island and is transporting medical personnel to the most hard-hit areas and carrying out evacuations. It is also distributing much-needed supplies, such as food, hygiene kits, and tents.

But the administration is still turning away Haitians who have chosen to flee in light of recent events. Thousands of Haitians are still stuck in Mexico on account of US policies, which currently allow asylum seekers and other migrants to be turned away on the basis of pandemic-related border restrictions, known as the Title 42 policy.

Many more Haitians may seek entry: Though it’s hard to estimate how many, the Darién Gap, a treacherous stretch of jungle and swamp on the border of Panama and Colombia that has functioned as a migrant corridor, has seen more crossings this year — at least 46,000 — than it has in the previous three years combined, and most of those attempting to navigate it are Haitians and Cubans.

The Biden administration has allowed more than 100,000 Haitians who arrived in the US before July 29, 2021, to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is typically offered to citizens of countries suffering from natural disasters or armed conflict. Those people are able to live and work in the US free of fear of deportation.

But that doesn’t help those who might be continuing to leave the country due to the political fallout from Moïse’s July 7 assassination, or now, in the aftermath of Saturday’s earthquake. What’s more, Haitians who have been prohibited from entering the US under Title 42, for which experts say there is no public health justification, appear indefinitely trapped in Mexico. And the US has continued to carry out deportation flights of Haitians despite the turmoil.

At the same time, the Biden administration has discouraged Haitians, as well as Cubans fleeing their communist regime’s recent crackdown on anti-government protesters, from trying to reach the US by boat. Officials have made clear that those who try will be intercepted by the US Coast Guard and will not be permitted to enter the US. Instead, they will either be repatriated back to Haiti or, if they can demonstrate the need for humanitarian protection, resettled in another country.”

How Hope, Fear and Misinformation Led Thousands of Haitians to the U.S. Border

““False information, misinformation and misunderstanding might have created a false sense of hope,” said Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that works with migrants.

Biden’s term has coincided with a sharp deterioration in the political and economic stability of Haiti, leaving parts of its capital under the control of gangs and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. The assassination of Haiti’s president and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake this summer have only added to the pressures causing people to leave the country. Shortly after the assassination, hundreds of Haitians flocked to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, many carrying packed suitcases and small children, after false rumors spread on social media that the Biden administration was handing out humanitarian visas to Haitians in need.

Most of the Haitians in Mexico — a country that has intercepted nearly 4,000 this year — were not coming directly from Haiti, but from South America, where, like Mackenson, they had already been living and working, according to a top official in the Mexican foreign ministry. The number of Haitians heading northward across the border that separates Colombia and Panama — often by traversing the treacherous jungle known as the Darién Gap — has also surged in recent years, increasing from just 420 in 2018 to more than 42,300 through August of this year, according to the Panamanian government.

“We are dealing with this really new type of migration, which are these Haitians coming from mainly Brazil and Chile,” said Roberto Velasco, chief officer for North America at Mexico’s foreign ministry. “They are mainly looking for jobs. They come from third countries, so repatriation is difficult.”

Following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of Haitians headed southward to Chile and Brazil in search of jobs in two of South America’s richest countries. To get there, many undertook an arduous overland journey across the continent through the Amazon and the Andes.

Many were offered humanitarian visas in both nations, which needed low-wage workers, but that welcoming stance withered as economic instability in the region rose in tandem with a growing backlash toward immigrants.”