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Report urges Mexico — and the U.S. and U.N. — to treat Haitian migrants as refugees

Marco Ugarte
Haitian migrants wait outside the Mexico Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) in Mexico City in September.

In "Pushed Into the Shadows," Refugees International points out a decades-old Latin American agreement should guide Mexico in its handling of Haitian migrants.

The U.S. has come under criticism in the past year for its treatment of Haitian migrants at the border — but a new report also argues Mexico can do more to ease the crisis.

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Thousands of Haitian migrants wait in Mexico these days as they seek asylum in the U.S. The report by the nonprofit Refugees International in Washington D.C. — “Pushed Into the Shadows: Mexico's Reception of Haitian Migrants" — urges Mexico to provide more refugee-specific services to those Haitians, such as temporary residency, work, and better shelter and access to asylum processes in Mexico itself.

Refugees International reminds the Mexican government that it was a signatory to the 1984 Cartagena Declaration. That non-binding agreement between more than a dozen Latin American countries was originally meant to help the refugees of Central America’s civil wars.

But the Refugees International report argues today’s Haitian migrants are themselves escaping war-like conditions. Gangs have taken control of much of Haiti, terrorizing the population. Their violence has erupted again this week, killing at least 20 people.

The report also urges the U.S. and the U.N. to reconsider deportation and other policies — including Title 42, a pandemic safeguard the U.S. has used to block Haitian immigration at the border, but which is expected to be lifted next month — that “reinforce a preconceived view of Haitians as unworthy of refuge.”

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.