So far this fiscal year, more than 5,000 Haitians without a U.S. visa have been processed by CBP officers at the San Diego Field Office, primarily at San Ysidro, compared with 339 in the previous year.
Migrant assistance groups in Tijuana have become increasingly overwhelmed with the arrival of Haitians, a group rarely seen in the city until large numbers began arriving at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in late May. The great majority have traveled by land from Brazil, where they had gone to work after the earthquake, but faced growing hardship following the country’s economic downturn.
DHS officials speaking on background on Wednesday confirmed the new policy and said that it is effective as of today. Haitians who present themselves at the U.S. border can expect to be detained and processed under a provision of U.S. immigration law known as “expedited removal” that allows for their deportations without an appearance before an immigration judge—with exceptions made for those who express fear of returning to their home country.
“We will be treating inadmissible Haitians as we do nationals of other countries,” one said. Since 2014, U.S. deportation policy has placed priority on convicted felons, those with “significant or multiple misdemeanors” and those stopped without entry documents near the border or at ports of entry while trying to enter the United States.This policy of course does not apply to most Haitians entering the country. Data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicate that an average of about 20,000 people per year from Haiti entered the U.S. as legal permanent residents between 2000 and 2014 (the last year for which data are available from DHS).