AFP, published on Monday, September 20, 2021 at 2:45 p.m.
Worn out by months of travel across Central America, Haitian families expelled in numbers on Sunday oscillate between anger at the treatment suffered in the United States and the anguish of living again in their country now plagued by gang violence. .
The United States had suspended the expulsions of Haitian migrants in an irregular situation following the earthquake that devastated the southern half of Haiti on August 14, but the regrouping in a few days of more than 15,000 migrants, most of them Haitians, under a bridge in Texas was a game-changer.
In less than two hours, three flights from Texas landed on the tarmac in Port-au-Prince on Sunday: the Haitian migration authorities have never had to deal with such an influx.
When they got off the bus that came to pick them up at the foot of the footbridge, the families poured out their anger and frustration on the administrative employees and the photojournalists, who were ordered not to take pictures.
“Biden knows what he’s doing but he doesn’t care. He treats us and our children worse than beasts,” a woman yells, tears streaming down her face.
Around her, some men agree to confide in the conditions in the center managed by the US migration administration, near the bridge under which they had spent several nights.
– No beds or showers –
“We did not have beds to sleep in: we slept with only a thin plastic sheet to cover us, while the space was too air conditioned. And we slept on the concrete floor” testifies Garry Momplaisir who spent five days in the place.
“We couldn’t shower. There were toilets but no place to wash,” added the 26-year-old man, expelled with his wife and 5-year-old daughter.
As the registration process by the Haitian authorities dragged on, many parents took advantage of the wait to give their youngest children a basic toilet.
– Chilean children deported to Haiti-
According to the manifestos of the three flights consulted by an AFP journalist, nearly half of the 327 Haitians expelled by the United States on Sunday are under 5 years old and were all born outside Haiti.
Because before arriving at the Mexican-American border, these Haitians had lived for several years in Chile and Brazil, where they had emigrated during the years 2016 and 2017.
“In Santiago, I had a small business, my husband worked. We managed to save money: that’s what allowed us to travel all the way to the United States” testifies a young woman who is nickname Jeanne, refusing to disclose her identity for fear of being stigmatized.
With Maël, their three-year-old son holding a Chilean passport, Jeanne and her husband crossed the American subcontinent in two months, a migratory route considered today among the most perilous according to humanitarian organizations.
“It’s an inexplicable thing. No one can really testify to this horror” sighs the young Haitian. “If I had known what I was going to experience, I would never have made this trip,” she shuddered, on the verge of tears.
The couple say they spent US $ 7,000 to get to Mexico and an additional US $ 2,000 to get to the Texas border.
Like other families deported to Port-au-Prince on Sunday, they mistakenly believed that they could benefit from the extension of the special TPS migration status.
The Biden administration did extend the grant to Haitians of the TPS, intended for nationals of countries that were dangerous or struck by natural disasters, but only to nationals who were on American soil before July 29.
Her management studies completed, Jeanne immediately left Haiti in 2016.
“If I had been able to find work, I would never have left. Now the situation in the country has worsened so much” she worries.
Her mother residing abroad, Jeanne will follow her husband and live with her in-laws, in the heart of a peripheral district of Port-au-Prince totally controlled by a gang since the beginning of the year.
“Imagine: guys were able to enter the president’s house and kill him in his room. And me? I can’t be comfortable” anguishes the 28-year-old woman, evoking the assassination of Jovenel Moïse killed by an armed commando July 7.
Undermanned, the Haitian authorities completed the registration of all their nationals expelled from the United States at the end of Sunday afternoon. On Monday, three new flights from Texas are scheduled to Port-au-Prince.