Sources say the UN migration agency has asked Brazil to accept Haitians at the US-Mexico border.

According to two sources with knowledge of the request, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has formally requested that Brazil accept some Haitian migrants camped along the US-Mexico border hoping to enter the US.

The petition from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency, comes as US President Joe Biden faces mounting pressure to resolve yet another migration crisis. Crossings at the US-Mexico border have risen to their highest levels in 20 years in recent months, causing political headaches and logistical challenges for both the US and Mexico.

Around 15,000 mostly Haitians were camped just north of the Rio Grande river this month as they attempted to enter the United States, although the numbers have since fallendramatically.

Washington has begun flying some back to Haiti, while Mexico has urged others to give up their U.S. dreams and seek asylum in the south of the country.

The IOM asked that Brazil receive Haitians who have a Brazilian child, or who have passed through Brazil before entering Mexico on their journey north, the two sources said. They said the first request was more likely to be approved. One of the sources said the second one would require more analysis.

Without mentioning the IOM request, Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement that “the topic was discussed in conversations between authorities from different countries and is being analyzed in light of current legislation.”

The IOM, via its Mexico office, said it has “a voluntary return program, assisting migrants of various nationalities, and the implementation of this program requires an agreement among the countries involved.” It gave no further details.

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, many Haitians fled to Brazil, where they found work and started families. According to Brazilian government data, more than 105,000 people arrived in Brazil between 2011 and 2018.

According to officials and migrants, with Brazil suffering from years of political dysfunction, economic malaise, and a brutal coronavirus pandemic, some have fled to the United States.

According to one source, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca discussed the proposal when they met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Blinken asked Brazil to accept some Haitians who are set to be deported from the United States in the coming weeks, the source said.

According to an official readout of their meeting, Blinken and Franca “discussed the cooperation between the United States and  Brazil on bilateral, regional, and global issues.”

A U.S. State Department spokesperson declined to comment on discussions between Blinken and Franca, or on “the specifics of ongoing diplomatic discussions.” The spokesperson directed questions on “commitments” Brazil had made to the IOM to Brasilia. “We are in close communication with other countries in the region to address the challenges of irregular migration,” the spokesperson said.

One of the sources said one hurdle that would need to be overcome as part of the proposal is which country would pay for the flights to bring the Haitians back to Brazil. The source assumed the United States, which is already sending planes full of people back to Haiti, would pay.

The US State Department has previously funded IOM-organized returns of Central American migrants from Mexico.

The current deportation flights from the United States to Haiti have sparked debate.

Daniel Foote, the United States’ special envoy to Haiti, resigned over the expulsions, saying in a letter circulated on Thursday that the “collapsed” Caribbean nation was unable to support the returning migrants. In recent months, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has been rocked by the assassination of its president, gang violence, and natural disasters.

 

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