Q&A – How Haitians Are Getting To Our Southern Border


Photo: Getty Images

Today’s entry: Hey Brian we all are concerned about the open border problem and the thousands of illegals crashing our border but has anyone investigated on how they ACTUALLY got here?? Keep up your great works!

Bottom Line: Yeah, we have a pretty good idea of what’s happened in the lead up to the current incarnation of the border crisis punctuated with an estimated 12,000+ Haitians living in squalor under a bridge in Del Rio as they seek to gain status within the United States. I’m going to specifically focus on their stories, which while different in the way their migration originally began, most recently resembles their Central American counterparts who’ve been the most common migrants seeking status until recently. Without context, it might appear Haitians in mass recently left their country for Central America and then caravanning to our southern border to attempt to gain status in the United States. While it’s possible some of the Haitians currently in Del Rio made their trek that way, almost all of them started their journey over a decade ago. 

After the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake, hundreds of thousands of Haitian refugees were accepted by countries ranging from Central America to the United States. In the United States, we granted over 60,000 Haitians TPS or Temporary Protected Status. Even larger numbers made their way to Chile and Brazil where there were labor shortages around the time of the earthquake. The governments accepted Haitians en masse who agreed to work on often state-sponsored projects. The two most notable were the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. At the time the pandemic hit, an estimated 143,000 Haitians lived in Brazil, with an estimated 150,000 in Chile. Work had already begun to dry up in those countries for Haitians, where commonly stories emerged of discrimination against them by locals (when government work wasn’t available). So, the ball was already rolling down the path of something needing to give for many relocated Haitians and then the pandemic hit. Like most countries in the region, Chile and Brazil were locked down with the pandemic which devastated their economies. As you’d imagine the Haitian immigrants were disproportionately impacted. That takes us to where we are today. 

With nearly 300,000 Haitians having relocated to Central America post the 2010 earthquake and with many of them becoming increasingly desperate after having trouble finding employment during the pandemic, you can see how we’ve arrived at this point. The Haitians you’ve seen under the bridge in Del Rio Texas arrived here the way most other migrants have by making the trek up from Central America after commonly having lived there for the better part of a decade.

Part of the reason we’ve not seen this sooner is due to an understanding of asylum laws. These Haitians who were granted asylum by Brazil and Chile aren’t in a position to turn around and credibly declare asylum in the United States. Additionally, they’ve been offered asylum by Mexico – which under federal law invalidates any attempt to seek asylum in the United States – yet only 15% of Haitians offered asylum in Mexico have taken it – as they’ve pressed on the US to attempt to gain status here. 

What’s changed, why this is happening now and what’s brought it to the current level of crisis are some of what you’ve likely heard reported. They’d heard the United States has an open border. In other words, you no longer need to be a legit asylum seeker to gain access. Recently, when discussing the migration issue with Todd Bensman from the Center for Immigration Studies, who’d spent months in Central America studying dynamics leading to caravans being created that were making their way to our southern border, he confirmed the prevailing thought in that region is that the United States has an open border. He said no one, literally, no one he interviewed took the Biden administration's claims that the border wasn’t open seriously because they’ve seen and often heard from so many who’d already had success. As Chuck Todd said, Joe Biden has a credibility crisis. The Haitian caravans coming to our southern border were brought about by circumstances originally dating back from over a decade ago, but which have culminated in the current humanitarian crisis because of Joe Biden’s credibility crisis. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 


Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio 

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