Report: Haitian asylum seekers in Mexico face harsh conditions, confusing policies

Published: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 4:31pm
Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 4:32pm
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A new report looks at the way Haitian asylum seekers have been treated in Mexico as the result of both U.S. and Mexican policies.

Thousands of Haitians have been left in limbo in Mexico because of flawed policies that fail to recognize them as refugees, according to the new report "Pushed into the Shadows: Mexico’s Reception of Haitian Migrants," from the nonprofit Refugees International.

"In Mexico in particular, Haitians are both hyper-visible because they are black, and at the same time completely neglected within the system. So they’re both particularly vulnerable and particularly ignored," said report co-author Yael Schacher.

Racist assumptions in Mexico and internationally are partially to blame, she said, but so are policies that don’t account for Haitians’ complex migration stories. Many fled their country years ago, arriving first in the Dominican Republic, Brazil or Chile before reaching Mexico or the U.S. However, current asylum rules make it difficult for Haitians to prove they are fleeing violence, despite ongoing turmoil in their country.

The report urges Mexico to use a 1984 agreement known as the Cartagena Declaration to offer Haitians protection from war-like conditions caused by political unrest, gang violence and natural disasters. It also makes recommendations for the U.S. and the United Nations to better meet the needs of Haitians seeking refuge and to guide future policy decisions.

Report authors interviewed 25 Haitian asylum seekers starting in December 2021 in southern Mexico, and followed their experiences as they traveled to northern Mexico and as some have since been expelled back to Haiti after entering the United States.

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