“They said our names, and they said they are bringing us somewhere else. We did not know we were going back to Haiti. Nobody told us we were going back to Haiti. We need to go back to Chile, but now we have no money left and no home. What will become of my children?”
– Sonia Piard, who recently arrived in Port-au-Prince, as quoted in The Washington Post, September 19, 2021
In the face of mass deportations and the inhumane treatment of thousands of mostly Haitian asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border, Fundación Avina hereby expresses its unequivocal rejection of the brutality carried out by Border Patrol agents. This treatment violates every international protocol and agreement pertaining to the protection of immigrants and refugees, and it must cease immediately.
Mass deportation, which is being justified as an exceptional measure to protect public health, violates the minimum protection required by law for those who have left their country for humanitarian reasons (i.e., people whose lives are at risk, who are fleeing conflict, or whose basic rights are at risk in their place of origin). Moreover, this violent deportation strategy, which is being carried out without basic due diligence and information gathering, only serves to worsen the crisis.
Thousands of people are arriving in Port-au-Prince without local support networks or basic resources for their survival, after having attempted to forge a life outside the country. We anticipate that this situation will also exacerbate the complex crisis that is happening in Haiti.
It is important to note that this crisis did not begin a few weeks ago at the border in Texas. Most of the Haitian migrants coming to the US-Mexico border are traveling from Chile and Brazil. Their decision to travel to the United States was prompted primarily by the lack of documents permitting them to establish residency and find work in those countries, a situation made untenable by the economic hardship of the pandemic. For months, humanitarian organizations have been observing and warning about this migratory flow and the pressure it is putting on borders, especially in Panama and southern Mexico.
Faced with the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, our countries and institutions have not been able to provide shelter and protection to the people who need it. Instead, they have created more obstacles and barriers to the effective social, labor, and cultural integration of the Haitian community, which has culminated in the grave situation we are seeing today.
At Fundación Avina, we aspire and work for a more hospitable world, one that respects the dignity of every person and where migrating is a choice and not a crime.
We recently witnessed anti-immigrant protests in Iquique, Chile, targeting Haitians and Venezuelans. We fail to see effective coordination and collaboration between countries and institutions. All we observe are isolated actions to reject and deter migrants. For these reasons, we call on governments, civil society organizations, and multilateral agencies to work together and create mechanisms to uphold and protect the fundamental human rights of these and all migrants.