Haitians learn from experience to reach Tijuana

As thousands of Haitian migrants were detained, deported, or expelled from an impromptu border camp built along the Texas-Mexico border last week, many others traveled west to the border city of Tijuana, hoping to avoid a crackdown aimed at stemming the rising tide of migrants - fleeing recent natural disasters and political upheaval that have ravaged Haiti in recent months.

Many forced to pay thousands of dollars to evade detection and avoid popular routes.

Fellow Haitians who reached the doorstep of the United States five years ago, however, have become a valuable resource for those fleeing the country this time…smoothing the pathway north.

Since July, the network has also helped some Haitians to cross into the United States.

26-year-old Alexandre Guerby recently arrived in Tijuana with his wife and daughter after a month-long journey from Chile:

"I can't tell how much money I spent to get here. I have a daughter for whom I need to buy things, and food for her mother and I - of course, that's a lot of money."

His journey mirrors that of predecessors who first fled a major 2010 earthquake in Haiti and chronic poverty for South America. Many then moved north en masse for the United States in 2016…

Settling in various parts of Tijuana, some Haitians work in restaurants and factories, while others have businesses ranging from cell phone shops to car washes, gardening, plumbing and interior decoration…

Felix Deam arrived to Mexico from Haiti nine years ago and has been living in Tijuana for a year. He is a worker at a local factory.

"I'm working here. I don't want to leave to go to the U.S.. Recently a lot of my compatriots crossed (the border) and many of them were deported. I can live well here as well as long as I'm working."

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

Baja California, the state where Tijuana lies, has traditionally been one of the fastest-growing in Mexico, and the local labor minister told Reuters the Haitians are welcome.

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