Haitian asylum-seekers face discrimination in Tijuana migrant camp

The World, By Max Rivlin-Nadler, April 02, 2021

A community of Haitian migrants has been in Tijuana for nearly a decade. They’ve fled a devastating earthquake, a series of hurricanes, the financial collapse of their economy and now, deep political instability and violence, as an unpopular president tries to hold on to power.

Many Haitians feel as if they’re stuck in Tijuana, fearful that by crossing the border, they’ll be sent right back to Haiti, but unable to make a life for themselves in Mexico.

When a migrant camp was established in February at the El Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana, hundreds of Haitians set up tents, hoping that they would soon be allowed to declare asylum in the United States.

Dorlean Ito was one of them. He’d been living in Tijuana for a year.

“Haiti is my country and I love it, but it wasn’t possible to stay there. There are a bunch of criminals sitting around doing nothing,” he told KPBS in early March.

Ito had spent five years working in Chile, but he said the discrimination there against Black people was too intense. He decided in 2019 to try to get into the United States, even though he feared possibly being returned to Haiti.

“If they deport me, I won’t live in Haiti. I don’t have anything in Haiti. I don’t have family. I don’t have money to leave Haiti. That’s why I wanted to leave, but I’m still afraid, very afraid. I think, ‘If I go there, I’ll die. I’ll get killed. I’ll go hungry.’ Hunger is nothing. But being killed is something,” he said.

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