Celene Bolanos

Haitian Mobility from Brazil to Mexico
Development Studies & Latin American Literatures
Spring 2019

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Brazil became the primary destination for Haitian migrants, where they were granted humanitarian visas and presented with employment opportunities, largely in construction for the World Cup and Olympics. In 2016, Brazil’s economic recession, combined with the urgency to enter the U.S. while they were still eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), drove an estimated 30,000 Haitians in Brazil on a costly and dangerous journey across the Americas. However, a sudden shift in U.S. migration policy resulted in the current bottleneck of Haitians stranded in Mexico’s northern border. My research explores the multiplicity of patterns, trajectories, and implications of Haitian migration from Brazil towards the U.S. through an intersectional framework, where the categories of race, class and gender condition the various phases of the migration experience. I also uncover the centrality of cross-national social networks, which I define as the interactions and exchanges between migrants of various nationalities. These ties are absent in literature surrounding social networks, as they are largely understood in relation to the country of origin and destination. These ties commonly form in cities of transit and in migrant-serving spaces, among others, and are critical in exchanging information, strategies, and potential opportunities – such as the possibility to enter the U.S. My research could explain the first Haitian arrivals in Tijuana from Brazil, influenced by the earlier northward movement of migrants and refugees from other nationalities.