"We made it," Haitians learn from their experience to reach Mexico's Tijuana

"We made it," Haitians learn from their experience to reach Mexico's Tijuana ...

TIJUANA, Mexico, September 30, While thousands of Haitians were detained, deported, or expelled from a camp on Mexico's border with Texas last week, many others traveled west to the border city of Tijuana, hoping to avoid repression aimed at reducing the rising tide of migrants.

Evading detection, paying thousands of dollars, and shunning popular routes have piqued interest from those coming to Tijuana to assist fellow Haitians who arrived to the United States five years ago during another spike in migration.

According to more than two dozen people who spoke to Reuters, contact with established Haitians in the city, including those in local business, has smoothed the path north.

According to them, the network has also assisted some Haitians in navigating into the United States since July, and they have aided them since.

"Thank God, we made it," Alexandre Guerby, a 26-year-old recently arrived in Tijuana with his wife after undergoing sydney's trip from Chile for ten months with their Chilean-born daughter.

"I'm much safer now," Guerby said of the aid of other Haitians in reaching Tijuana.

Mexico last week worked with the United States to dissolve an impromptu camp of several thousand Haitians that sprang up between Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, and Del Rio, Texas, in collaboration with Mexico. Many had arrived in the United States from Chile or Brazil.

According to new arrivals and operators of migrant shelters, Guerby's family is one of hundreds who have been trickling into the city opposite San Diego this month.

His journey mirrors his predecessors who first escaped a major 2010 earthquake in Haiti and chronic poverty for South America. Many later moved north en masse for the United States in 2016 as the Brazilian economy deteriorated.

Children born in Chile were among Haitians who expressed the belief that they would be able to enter the United States as soon as possible. Chilean citizens can be granted a visa exemption from the United States for up to 90 days.

Some Haitians work in restaurants and factories, some in Tijuana, while others operate businesses that range from cell phone shops to car washhes, gardening, plumbing, and interior decoration, local advertising, as well as local businesses.

The majority of them are afraid of going public about their achievements, so they won't encounter difficulties with immigration authorities or attract the attention of organized crime.

Diverson Pierre, an industrial painter, stated in 2017 that he had arrived in Tijuana in 2017, intending to travel to the United States.

"But I decided to stay once I noticed that people treated us well here," he said. "My aim was to find work, and I found it."

Reuters spoke to more than 20 Haitians and Mexicans in Tijuana, stating they were advising new Haitian arrivals where they would stay or they had offered them rooms to rent themselves.

"They have a unique communication between them." They all pull in the same way," Jose Garcia, director of the city's Juventud 2000 shelter, stated. "They've phones in their hand all the time and always understand how things are on the border."

Wilner Metelus, a Haitian who heads advocacy group the Citizens Committee in Defense of Naturalized Persons and Afro-Mexicans, stated that prior arrivals had demonstrated the most recent influx of Haitians how to avoid official raids while making progress.

New arrival Guerby also wants to travel to the United States, but he plans to first work in Mexico to replenish his exhausted savings, having spent thousands of dollars converting north.

"EXPENSIVE" is a phrase that describes the possibilities for exploration.

Haitian migrants said they traveled in small groups to avoid detection because they were afraid of being deported home or sent back to southern Mexico, or even to Guatemala.

Sometimes, this meant getting into private cars or taxis so they could dodge authorities by avoiding the main roads.

"Everything on the way was far more expensive since we didn't have papers," Astride Petit, a 25-year-old Haitian, said.

Migrants had to pay up to 500 pesos ($25) for stretch lengths that would normally cost 80 to 100 peses, Petit noted. Nonetheless, the additional cost contributed to more efficient travel, he stated.

Despite the absence of the necessary documents, other Haitians were able to travel through Mexico as normal tourists. A number of Reuters early morning bus tickets they had purchased to get north from the eastern town of Poza Rica were revealed early.

Many people arrived with the aid of "coyotes" or guides in 2016, rather than Haitians' arrival in Tijuana in 2016 and took them straight to boarding houses and apartments, making them less visible, according to the heads of five migrant shelters.

Local officials claim that this has made it harder to estimate how many Haitians are in Tijuana.

Tijuana has long been a huge hub for migrants in the United States, the largest Mexican city on the US border, and there is strong sympathy for the Haitian migrants.

"Our experience in Tijuana has been that they're extremely hard-working. They should have a chance," Ruben Iturriaga, spokesman for local hairdresser who claimed he had dozens Haitian clients, said.

"We Mexicans are also immigrants: we go to the United States, and that's why we shouldn't shut the door on them," he added.

Footage broadcast on television and social media showed Mexican officials using heavy-handed methods to rip back immigrants at times, prompting sharp protests from rights groups and even criticism from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Baja California, the state where Tijuana lies, has historically been one of Mexico's fastest-growing economies, and local labor minister Luis Algorri said the Haitians are welcomed.

"We're open to the migrants getting jobs quickly," he added. "We have 25,000 posts to be filled on the coastal region."

($1 = 20.0490 Mexican pesos) ($1, = 20,04 90 Mexican Pesas, $ 1 = 0,0499 Mexican $)

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