Mexico’s refugee agency is near the point of failure due to a surge of asylum applications from Haitian migrants in recent months, the head of the agency said.
Andrés Ramírez spoke plainly on Monday about the scale of the problem. “We’ve almost collapsed at COMAR due to these tremendous numbers of arrivals of Haitians, but our position is: we are registering them all,” he said at the International Congress on Migration at Anáhuac University.
The number of applications by Haitians has increased by almost eight times this year. In 2020, 5,900 applications were made, compared to 45,000 this year as of November 16.
When the children of Haitians born in Brazil and Chile are included, the figure grows to 52,000, which is more than the number of applications from all nationalities in 2020.
However, arrivals from the poorest nation in Latin America should come as no surprise: applications from all nationalities decreased in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, save for Haitians.
Ramírez said dire living conditions in Haiti made deporting the migrants back to the Caribbean country potentially illegal. “We know perfectly well that the situation in Haiti is terrible. It is a chaotic situation, an absolutely exhausted parliament, a situation in which there has been an earthquake, a hurricane, an assassination. It is the poorest country in Latin America by far … sending or deporting Haitians to Haiti is practically a crime, it is something that we are definitely and absolutely against,” he said.
He added that mass migration of Haitians from places like Chile and Brazil was due to economic strife, social deterioration and in some cases discrimination.
Meanwhile, after a protest on Tuesday by Haitian migrants in Tapachula, Chiapas, the local director of the National Immigration Institute (INM), Héctor Martínez Castuera, was less charitable.
“The problem with some groups of Haitians is that they do not respect order … We told them that the preference was for women, pregnant women and their family nucleus; people in a state of vulnerability and in alphabetical order … so they came and pushed and wanted to go first before anyone else,” he said.
There are around 30,000 Haitian migrants stranded in Tapachula waiting on their refugee applications, the news website Infobae reported.