JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Haitians who arrived in Juarez in the past few months say they’re looking forward to applying for U.S. asylum once Title 42 restrictions go away.
The Biden administration last week said the controversial public health rule that has closed the borders to asylum seekers for two years to stem the spread of COVID-19 will end on May 23.
“This is good. All of the migrants left their countries for a reason. Many migrants are happy with that decision,” said Luciana Seido, a Haitian citizen who is in Juarez waiting to file an asylum claim at an El Paso port of entry.
Seido and other migrants told Border Report they have been enduring difficult situations in Juarez since being turned back at ports of entry or expelled from the United States after crossing from Mexico without authorization.
Some of the conditions they described include living under a virtual “house arrest” – going out only to work or buy food – to avoid being victims of crime, and sharing crowded apartments with five, six or more fellow migrants because rents for even a one-bedroom structure in Juarez are up to $400 a month.
One of the positive aspects of life in Juarez, they said, is that there’s plenty of work in the informal economy – mom-and-pop shops, city markets and as freelance construction workers and maintenance contract labor.
“In my country, there is no work. There is no president. There is no stability,” said Marcel Freybol, another Haitian citizen.
He said he hasn’t tried to cross the U.S. border without authorization and then claimed asylum – as many citizens of Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and Colombia recently placed in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program have – because he fears being deported to Haiti.
“I will wait a little. Later, when there is a possibility of getting in (to the United States), I will go in. But not yet,” Freybol said. “It’s still dangerous. They have taken many Haitians back” to their country.
Until the borders reopen for asylum claims, Freybol and some of his peers say their priority will be staying safe in Juarez and earning enough money to eat and pay rent.
In an earlier call with reporters, Haitian Bridge Alliance cofounder Guerline Josef said she hopes the Biden administration will accommodate asylum seekers of color whether they are part of family units or single adults. The organization reported the Biden administration has repatriated more than 21,000 Haitians back to a country rife with insecurity and political strife which has also endured natural disasters in the recent years.
“We urge for the administration to rethink their strategy to continue to expel individuals back to unsafe conditions, especially to Haiti, without first determining standing for an asylum claim,” she said.