Mexican Police Fine Taxi Driver $900 for Taking Haitian Migrants Toward U.S. Border

A Mexican taxi driver was fined $900 for driving a Haitian migrant toward the U.S. border as police work to clear migrants out of border towns, the Associated Press reported.

The Mexican government is putting pressure on local businesses to not help move migrants north. Eliseo Ortiz, a taxi driver in Ciudad Acuña, will no longer pick up Haitian migrants after he was fined $900 three months ago.

"They accused me of being an immigrant trafficker," Ortiz told AP. He said other drivers bribed police officers to continue transporting Haitian migrants.

Many Haitian immigrants stayed on the Mexican side of the U.S. southern border after about 2,000 migrants were expelled from Del Rio, Texas, and sent back to Haiti.

Now, Mexican officials are starting to bus Haitians to the southernmost part of the country and are preparing to send others back to Haiti.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Haitian Migrants Mexico
Mexican immigration agents are putting pressure on local businesses to not move Haitian migrants north toward the U.S. border, including issuing fines to taxi drivers. Above, Haitian migrants at the Terraza Fandango shelter, in Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico, on September 25, 2021. PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. officials closed the crossing on September 17 after an encampment of mostly Haitian migrants formed around the border bridge span. The camp was completely cleared of migrants on Friday.

Many of those migrants face expulsion because they are not covered by protections recently extended by the Biden administration to the more than 100,000 Haitian migrants already in the U.S.

Virginia Salazar, a Mexican woman, and her husband, Mensah Montant, from the African nation of Togo, were among those who responded to the Haitians' needs.

The couple brought rice to one home, medicine to another, and they're looking for a mattress for one Haitian family. Montant knows how it feels to be a stranger in a strange land: He arrived in Mexico as an immigrant nine years ago and now works as a tailor.

"I come from a family of migrants," said Salazar, who works as a cleaner. "There's my husband, and I have one sister who has documents and another who is illegal," she said of relatives in the United States. "This comes naturally to me."

They have helped about a dozen Haitians but don't know how many may still be in hiding here after U.S. authorities cleared the camp on the other side.

Montant had been about to bring ice to Etlove Doriscar, 32, when Mexican immigration agents surrounded him at his home. "What's happening, wait! I have my papers," he said, showing them his Mexican residency.

Montant and Salazar met Doriscar when they were handing out food earlier in the week at a smaller encampment that sprang up on the Mexican side.

When agents showed up to surround that camp, Doriscar, his wife and their 3-year-old daughter hid in the riverside brush until they could reach the couple's home.

Montant and Salazar found them a house where they could rent a room, a table and a fan for $50 per month. It means the world to the family and a Haitian woman who shares the other room.

"For the first time in days, I didn't have to sleep with one eye open," Doriscar said.

Andrea García, a 24-year-old hairstylist, has put up six Haitian families in various homes her family owns in Ciudad Acuña.

"They arrived at my house alone, with their babies and asked to help; they said there was no place they could go," recalled Garcia.

"Yes, I am worried, afraid because Mexican immigration agents are going into people's houses and are not giving them a chance at the process" to gain residency, Garcia said. "But it is more sad than scary to see how they pray when they see an immigration van."

To remain longer, the Haitians need to apply for refugee or asylum status, and that is done in the southern Mexico city of Tapachula. Because that process is so backed up, many Haitians feel Tapachula has become a trap for them and have tried to walk north, only to be stopped by checkpoints and National Guard troops.

"Tapachula has a lot of migrants, a lot, and they are not working, and they are not getting documents," Dorsicar said.

Manuel Casillas, 65, the owner of a Beatles-themed restaurant near the border bridge, has seen the Haitians come and go.

"This all makes me feel bad, not to be able to help them or give them work," Casillas said. Though things have quieted down for now, he said, "I think there will be another wave."

Mexican Families Help Haitian Migrants
Mexican immigration agents are pressuring local businesses to not move Haitian migrants north toward the U.S. border. Above, Mensah Montant (right) visits with Haitian migrants Rosaline Pierre and Etlove Dorsicar, in Ciudad Acuna, on September 24, 2021. Some of the thousands of Haitian migrants who briefly formed a camp in the Texas border town of Del Rio have found a helping hand across the river in the small Mexican border city of Ciudad Acuna. Fernando Llano/AP Photo