CBC News’ Kim Brunhuber tells a heartbreaking story of Haitian migrants stranded on the US-Mexican frontier.
Every day, more Haitians arrive, famished. They’ve been on the road for three months to get here.
“We crossed Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala to come here,” says 26-year-old Joubert Alizaire.
He’s among the close to 50,000 Haitians who migrated to Brazil after the 2010 earthquake devastated parts of their country. Most of them went to work on Olympic construction. When the Olympics ended, so did the work. But the U.S. offered them a lifeline of sorts, announcing that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would stop deporting Haitians who were in the country illegally.
That’s what prompted many Haitians like Jean-Ludger Sainnoval to begin a tortuous cross-continental journey. He says he walked much of the way, over mountains, through rivers and jungle.
“You never forget a journey like that,” Sainnoval says. “We had nothing to eat, no water, nothing to drink. We have friends that left Brazil but didn’t make it here. Some because it was too hard. Some because they died.”
Close to 5,000 Haitians managed to make it all the way to Tijuana, at the Mexico-U.S. border. But then in September the U.S. reversed the policy and said it would resume “removing” Haitian nationals, claiming that conditions in Haiti had improved. Those who feared persecution back home could apply for asylum.