At least 10,000 stranded Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border are expected to apply for refugee status in Mexico after unsuccessfully trying to cross into the United States, some of them for years, immigration authorities said on Thursday.
Charities and NGOs have been assisting more than 6,500 Haitian immigrants — mostly women and children — who have been forced to sleep in makeshift open-air refugee camps in the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali.
Officials in Mexico say the immigrants stranded on the Mexican side of the border have no chance of being admitted by the U.S. authorities since President Barack Obama suspended on Sept. 22 the Haitian humanitarian visa program on the grounds that the emergency in the Caribbean country has ended.
However, the visa program already failed to cover thousands of Haitians who fled to Mexico following the devastating 2010 earthquake in the Caribbean country and who have been stranded at the border ever since.
What's more, two months have now passed since Hurricane Matthew devastated southwest Haiti, leaving thousands of people without adequate food, safe drinking water and shelter. The humanitarian situation, coupled with the political and social crisis, may lead more migrants to think of fleeing to the north.
Since March, Mexico's National Institute of Migration has been granting transit visas to many Haitians who reach Mexico's southern border with Guatemala. The permits are granted to prevent another migrant crisis like the one that occurred earlier this year with thousands of Central Americans stranded for months.
The federal government and the Foreign Ministry have not yet made any statement on what NGOs and local authorities have described as a humanitarian crisis, which can worsen and become a health crisis due to the poor conditions in which the migrants live.