Home » Giving up on US, Haitian migrants opt for ‘Mexican dream’
Featured Global News News United States

Giving up on US, Haitian migrants opt for ‘Mexican dream’

It wasn’t his first choice, but Mexico is now home for Evens Luxama — along with thousands of other Haitians forced to put their hopes of migrating to the United States on hold.

The 34-year-old is one of a growing number of people from the crisis-torn Caribbean nation pursuing what activists have described as the “Mexican dream,” building a life in a land that migrants traditionally hurried through.

“I wanted to go to the United States, but I don’t think there’s another country that offers the opportunity that Mexico does right now,” said Luxama, who hopes his partner and young daughter will join him in the Mexican capital soon.

“In Mexico, they accept you, not only Haitians, but all foreigners,” he told AFP.

“They do everything to get you regularized, so that you have your papers, and with your papers, you can bring your family to live with you,” he said.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has seen years of worsening security due to raging gang violence, with its political, economic and public health systems also in tatters.

Luxama fled overseas last year after a gang kidnapped a cousin and the sister of his girlfriend, who were released after paying a ransom.

At the time, the Mexican embassy was the only one open in Port-au-Prince to process his visa request.

Luxama now works in Mexico City as an editor at a video production company — one of an unprecedented 141,000 people who sought refuge in the Latin American nation in 2023, mostly from Haiti, Honduras and Cuba.

In a recent video call to his parents in Haiti, he asked about the situation back home.

“You already know, son — a lot of problems,” his father replied.

Haiti has spiraled deeper into chaos since president Jovenel Moise was assassinated in 2021.

Gangs run rampant in large swaths of the country, and homicides in Haiti more than doubled last year to nearly 4,800, according to a UN report released last month.

In October, the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of a multinational force to help restore order.

“It’s almost impossible to live in Haiti,” said Luxama, who fears that he will be powerless to help his family when danger comes.

– ‘Mexican dream exists’ –

Migration from Haiti is not a new phenomenon for Mexico.

In September 2021, after a deadly earthquake in their country, thousands of Haitian migrants crowded into the Mexican border city of Ciudad Acuna hoping to cross over to the United States.

There were already Haitian communities in Tijuana on the Mexican-US border and the southern city of Tapachula, where thousands gathered seeking permits to travel through Mexico to the United States.

These days, Haitians are also a growing presence in Mexico City, many of them working in low-paid, informal jobs.

Some sleep on the streets in makeshift camps.

Rule changes and the “militarization” of the southern US border are among the reasons prompting migrants to stay in Mexico, said Rafael Velasquez, country director at the humanitarian group International Rescue Committee.

“Many people arrive and when they see that there is an opportunity (in Mexico), that the Mexican dream exists, they decide to give it a try,” he said.

Although the United States is allowing thousands of Haitians with expired travel documents to stay on, it only applies to those who arrived before November 6, 2022.

On a street in the Mexican capital, five Haitians drilled the pavement to install pipes near an abandoned cinema.

One of them, who gave his name as Jony and speaks Spanish, acts as an interpreter between the bosses and the rest of the workers, who speak Haitian Creole.

He was part of a wave of Haitians who arrived in Brazil after a devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 that left more than 300,000 people dead.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many of them headed north from Brazil as well as Chile, citing discrimination and difficulty obtaining legal status, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Every day, Jony travels several hours by subway to and from his workplace, and sometimes spends days waiting to be paid his salary.

Although he originally wanted to go to the United States, he said he stayed in Mexico because “it’s easier to return to Haiti one day.”

Source: Macau Business