In fear of new U.S. immigration policy, hundreds of Haitians choose to settle in Mexicali

Haitians in Mexicali

Calexico, Calif. - Hundreds of Haitian nationals once seeking asylum into the United States say they're feaful of President Trump's new immigration policies. 

Haitian nationals started arriving along the Southwest Border early last year seeking asylum into the United States.

According to statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "CBP has seen an increase in the number of Haitians arriving at border crossings with no status in the United States. In FY 2016, CBP officers at Ports of Entry at the Southwest Border saw 6,424 Haitian inadmissibles, which represented a significant increase as compared to FY 2015."

Moreover, from October 1 to December 31, officials report another 8,725 Haitians arriving at the ports of entry without legal status.

Last fall the Obama Administration announced that it would be resuming deportations of Haitian nationals after a six-year suspension
on deportations of Haitian citizens instituted in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Since then, Haitian migrants say deportations of increased.

Alain Fleury, 48, and Fauchelet Merceda, 43, say they arrived in Mexicali about 6 months ago from Brazil.

Merceda says he moved to Brazil in 2011 after the Haiti earthquake looking for work. He says things were good for a few years but the economy started failing. Early last year, friends and family told him that the United States would grant Haitian nationals asylum, so he used his savings to leave Brazil and come to the United States.

Fleury says the trip from Brazil to Mexico cost him between $3000- $3500.

Fleury says there were hundreds of Haitians leaving Brazil for America. When he arrived in Mexicali, he got on a waiting list to be processed by U.S. Immigration Officials at the Calexico Port of Entry. However, as the days went by, Fleury says he noticed more and more Haitians were being deported.

"By the time my number came up, I knew as soon as I got to the United States, I would be quickly deported," explained Fleury.

Both Fleury and Merceda say they decided to forego their immigration appointment with U.S. Officials and have remained in Mexicali hoping things will change, but say they lost hope when President Trump announced his new immigration policies in January.

For now, the men say they can't afford to return to Haiti where they won't find jobs. They say they've reached out to immigration authorities to request a more permanent legal status as refugees. Currently, the men have a temporary humanitarian permit to be in the country.

"But, it's really hard, especially to take care of our families in Haiti. It's really hard because in Mexicali we are working for only $200 pesos per day," said Fleury.

Merceda says he's hoping to save enough money to bring his family to Mexico from Brazil.

"In Brazil the $3000 Mexican pesos I send turn into nothing. If I bring them here, I'll at least be able to watch over them," said Merceda. 

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