Haitians desperate on border

Thousands of Haitians, desperate to get into the US, are camped out in immigrant centers, on church floors, and in the broken down rooms of a derelict hotel. They are living in limbo and at risk of crime as they wait in Mexico’s dangerous border neighborhoods.

The fringes of Mexicali and Tijuana are currently estimated to be housing around 5000 Haitians. An extra 300 turn up on an almost daily basis after their difficult journey from Brazil, according to official numbers from Mexico. The Haitians are mostly pleading to US border officials for asylum and are not yet attempting to slip through the brush of the desert to try to enter the US illegally, but the immigration facilities are overwhelmed. The Mexican government claims that around three times more Haitian immigrants arrive each day than are interviewed. This has resulted in a fast-growing border population and bottleneck situation.

There are still thousands of would-be immigrants heading north. This will further exacerbate the backlog during the final weeks of a US Presidential campaign in which immigration and the border between the US and Mexico have been the major focus.

The established immigrant shelters in Mexico can no longer cope with the fast-growing number of arrivals. The doors of five Protestant churches have recently opened to the immigrants. Also, an immigrant activist has converted a flop house for drug addicts and deportees in the red light district of Mexicali into cheap digs.