Photo Credit: Pedro Valtierra Anza/ Cuartoscuro/Amnesty International
Haitians Seeking Asylum In Tapachula, Mexico Are Fighting Racism In 'Open Air Prison'
Haitians currently living in Tapachula, a city in Chiapas state in Mexico, have denounced acts of discrimination and racism in an ‘open air prison’. During a conference organized by the Tapachula Haitian Refugees Association, or Asociación de Refugiados Hatianos en Tapachula in Spanish, they demanded for a solution to the immigration difficulties that they face daily.
Located near the border of Guatemala and close to the Pacific coast, Tapachula is home to thousands of Haitians seeking asylum and awaiting approved asylum applications from the Mexican government.
As of December 1, 2021, 47,494 Haitians have requested asylum in Mexico, plus 6,413 Chilean citizens, who are considered to be the children of Haitians, according to data from The Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance. Newsweek shares that the vast majority of these applications have been made in Tapachula, one of the principal crossing points for migrants.
On December 16, 2021, the same day that the Tapachula Haitian Refugees Association held the conference calling for an immediate end to the “obstacles in achieving refugee status, legalization, and human rights violations”, Amnesty International published a report based on over 60 interviews with Haitians who felt mistreated and frustrated with the bouts of anti-Black racism that they routinely face.
According to the Amnesty International report, immigration officials have even sent Haitian migrants back to Guatemala, often at night, failing to legally conduct assessments of their asylum claims— a violation of the United Nations Refugee Convention rules.
In response to growing anti-Black racism against Haitian migrants while in Tapachula, it is reported that during the conference, ‘THRA denounced the “rejection, harassment and criminalization” Haitians face from immigration authorities.’
During the conference held at Center for Human Rights Fray Matías de Córdova A.C., Wesly Luc, from THRA stated that “Many of us don’t have any help, nor relatives who could send us money. Many of us are sleeping on the streets with our children, our cousins. That’s why we are here to denounce that situation.”
With thousands of Haitians seeking asylum in Tapachula, the THRA stand to demand a safer and more welcoming process in place of the intense racism that they have been met with.