US wants Brazil to reduce humanitarian visas to Haitians to curb migration

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To try to contain the current immigration crisis in the United States, the Joe Biden government started to defend that Brazil increase the rigor in the granting of humanitarian and family reunion visas for Haitians.

According to interlocutors, Washington believes that a possible reduction in the number of these visas tends to reduce the flow of Haitian citizens who cross the Americas towards the southern US border, as part of those detained trying to enter the US in an irregular manner begins their journey in Brazil.

The assessment is that the strengthening of migration controls in Brazil and other Latin American nations, such as Chile, also pointed out as the origin of Haitians, should discourage people who plan to enter these countries only with the aim of trying to migrate to the US shortly thereafter. .

Washington’s concern was expressed, in general, by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during a meeting held last week in Bogotá, Colombia. He did not mention Brazil at the time, but asked for the cooperation of all countries in the region in facing the current crisis.

“We have to strengthen border controls, for example, through visa requirements and meticulous entry controls in cases where the waiver of permits unintentionally encourages irregular migration,” he said. “We have to improve asylum processes so that people who have appeals [por refúgio] valid messages can be heard quickly.”

The crisis was highlighted last week when data from the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) for fiscal year 2021, which ended in September, were released, showing a record over 1.7 million arrests on the border with Mexico.

Bilateral cooperation to deal with the situation was also discussed during a visit to Brasilia last week by Serena Hoy, the US Department of National Security Deputy Secretary for International Affairs. When contacted, Itamaraty denied that the Americans had expressed concern about the number of humanitarian visas granted by Brazil to Haitian citizens.

“The Brazilian government considers that visas for humanitarian assistance to citizens of Haiti are granted with the utmost rigor, in accordance with the parameters established by inter-ministerial ordinance number 13, of 2020,” said the ministry, in a statement.

The US embassy, ​​for its part, argued that “helping to stem the flow of individuals seeking to use third countries as a starting point for illegal travel is an important aspect” of efforts to stem the tide of irregular migration. “The current unprecedented migratory situation is a regional challenge that requires all of us to find new solutions and new forms of cooperation, within the framework of each country’s laws and our international commitments.”

This year, Brazil issued around 3,300 humanitarian reception visas for Haitians and 800 for family reunion. In 2018, there were 3,000 humanitarian visas, a number that rose to approximately 5,500 a year in 2019 and 2020. The Haitian community in the country is 120,000 people, according to government interlocutors. This kind of welcome is similar to what was recently offered to citizens of Afghanistan.

Haitians are among the top nationalities of US border detainees. Of the total number of people barred in fiscal year 2021 —1.7 million —, 608 thousand were Mexicans and, subsequently, in a group of 367,000 apprehended of “other nationalities”, according to the CBP, are citizens of the Caribbean country and Brazilians, among others.

The number created problems for Biden. First, with scenes of thousands of migrants huddled in a camp under a bridge in Texas, and then of border agents threatening people with horse reins. The Democrat accelerated the deportations, but faced criticism for the returns made to the poorest country in the Americas — which is also facing a serious political and economic crisis.

At the end of September, Blinken asked Brazilian Chancellor Carlos França to ask Brazil to accept Haitians who have some ties to the country — whether they have a valid national registration of a foreigner or Brazilian children. People in these conditions are not prevented from entering the country.

The Americans also looked into the possibility of expanding the chances that deported Haitian citizens would be taken to Brazil, but the government of Jair Bolsonaro (no party) rejected the proposal.

According to interlocutors, the current priority of Itamaraty on the subject is to provide assistance to children born in Brazil who were deported to Haiti for not having documents proving their nationality. They were detained with their parents while trying to cross the border into Mexico.

Brazilian authorities estimate that there are around 80 Brazilian children of Haitian parents in the Caribbean nation. The current job is to map these cases and ensure that children and their parents have the necessary documents if they want to return to Brazil.

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