EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The recent death of two Haitians in Juarez, Mexico, is yet another symptom of the humanitarian crisis besetting asylum seekers not being allowed into the U.S., migrant advocates said.
On Sunday morning, Juarez police retrieved the body of a Haitian national from a rented room in the back of a Downtown bar. The man had been released from a hospital a few days back due to an unspecified stomach illness, acquaintances told police.
On Sunday afternoon, police were notified of the death of a Haitian inside an apartment in the Bellavista neighborhood. The 35-year-old man suffered food poisoning from eating bad chicken, according to his wife, El Diario reported. The man experienced chest pain, vomit and difficulty breathing; two roommates who are also Haitians required hospitalization as well, according to the newspaper.
“It’s devastating, and it’s not a new phenomenon,” said Nicolas Palazzo, staff attorney at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso. “Since (President) Trump began externalizing asylum to Mexico we have seen over and over again the tragic cost these policies have had in terms of human life.”
Trump in 2019 implemented sent asylum seekers to await the outcome of their case in Mexico, a policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols. The Biden administration did away with the policy after a lengthy court fight. But asylum seekers who enter the United States between ports of entry still risk expulsion under the Title 42 public health order.
Las Americas and other advocacy groups have vigorously called for an end to Title 42, which a federal judge has given the Biden administration until December 21 to bring about.
Meantime, thousands of asylum seekers from many countries remain stuck in Mexico, vulnerable to crime and to an environment of hardship, the advocates said.
“The migrant population in Juarez has very little access to basic resources. They have little access to health care; they don’t have access to nutrition,” Palazzo said. “They’re housing vulnerable – there’s not enough shelter space, so a substantial population is living on the street. A disproportionate number are Haitian and black migrants who are turned away from shelter, from jobs.”
In addition to physical ailments, the migrants need mental health care, he and others said.
Health care for migrants debated
The World Health Organization says migrants and refugees are exposed to stress because of hardship or traumatic events during their travels. These can include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Many migrants and refugees lack access to mental health services or experience barriers in accessing these. They also face disruptions in continuity of care,” the WHO reports.
Palazzo said migrants living or spending most of their time on the streets experience a “recurrent pattern” of health issues. “Many are coming from an incredibly long journey. […] Sometimes they are injured during that journey or lost a loved one along the way. There is a lot of collective trauma,” he said.
Authorities in Juarez told Border Report migrants are welcome to seek medical care at any time. “In fact, all levels of government have made unprecedented efforts to reach out to migrants, not just for health needs but any other need we can help with,” said Enrique Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua Population Council that runs Juarez’s Migrant Assistance Center.
Valenzuela said the center, which is next to the Paso del Norte International Bridge, is behind a health clinic called Todos Somos Mexico (We are all Mexico).
He said efforts also are being made to bridge barriers – the Haitians speak Creole, and those who’ve been living in Brazil for a long time speak Portuguese – and overcome mistrust.