The thousands of Haitian migrants who have assembled near the nation’s southern border in Texas in an effort to seek asylum will be returned to their native land by the federal government, according to a new report.
Authorities are expected to begin with the mass expulsion on Sunday, the Associated Press reported, citing government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made as of Friday night.
The news of the government’s plan to expel as many as 14,000 Haitians who have found refuge under a massive bridge in the small town of Del Rio came weeks after the Haitian president was assassinated and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people decimated the island nation that was already reeling from a number of other political crises and natural disasters.
The throngs of Haitians who have been arriving at Del Rio were making their way through South and Central America after, in some cases, spending years on their slow but steady journey to the United States by both foot and bus.
It was the Haitian migrants’ encounters with anti-Black racism in South and Central America that kept them on the path to the U.S., Guerline M. Jozef, the executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a nonprofit group that works to settle Haitian migrants in California, told the New York Times.
Jozef said that there will be little to nothing waiting for the migrants in Haiti after they get expelled from the U.S.
“These people are extremely desperate. And they know that there is nothing to go back to in Haiti,” he added.
The U.S.’s relationship with Haitian migrants is a complicated one.
Following Haitian President Jovenel Moïse‘s assassination in July, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Haitians they shouldn’t head to the U.S.
Mayorkas stated that Haitians trying to travel to the U.S. “will die” and reportedly discouraged any “migration by sea.” He later added: “Allow me to be clear, if you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.”
There are about 14,000 Haitians who might beg to differ with Mayorkas’ famous last words.
The U.S. has already extended protections for the Haitian nationals living in the continental 50 states under Temporary Protected Status (TPS). That status was renewed in May for another 18 months for up to 55,000 Haitians. Haitians living in the U.S. under TPS were previously facing deportations until Mayorkas renewed their protections.
Reacting to the Haitians in Del Rio, Mayorkas said this week, “We will address it accordingly.”
That “address” was revealing itself slowly on Friday night as the Associated Press reported that the expulsion process “will likely involve five to eight flights a day,” though it is unclear where the flights will originate from and how many people will be on each flight.
Human rights and immigration advocates have criticized Mayorkas’ actions toward Haitians as a whole.
In particular, Katharina Obser, the acting director of the Migrant Rights & Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, noted what she called Mayorkas’ “repeated insistence on rejecting desperate families, children, and single adults from our borders, whether by foot or by sea.”
Haitian Times Publisher Vania Andre also sounded the alarm in an email she sent to NewsOne earlier this summer about the future of Haitian nationals in the U.S.
“For a while, Haitians in the Diaspora were hopeful about Haiti’s future, especially given the outpouring of support for the country in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. There was a sense that Haiti was going to build back bigger and better,” Andre wrote in part. “Folks left their corporate jobs and stability in the U.S. to be a part of that reawakening for Haiti, and sadly the reality has been the complete opposite, and Moise’s assassination is the final nail in the coffin for them.”