Haitian Migration through the Americas: A Decade in the Making

Caitlyn Yates
Date of Publication: 
October, 2021
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

This article chronicles Haitian migration through the western hemisphere over the last decade – one of the largest, but often overlooked, flows of migrants in the region. A series of disasters, including the 2010 earthquake and the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, as well as the insecurity arising from rampant gang violence and government instability, drove many Haitians to seek protection and opportunity in other countries. One of the largest movements was to Brazil, where some 85,000 arrived between 2010 and 2017. Initially welcomed by the Brazilian government to fill labor shortages in a booming economy, Haitians experienced discrimination and hostility when the economy stagnated and populist president Bolsanaro was elected in 2018. Chile then became the top destination, not only because of a strong economy but because Haitians could enter without a visa until 2018. In that year, 27,000 Haitians entered Chile, and by mid-2020, an estimated 237,000 Haitians lived in Chile, although large numbers began leaving Chile when the economy started contracting. The rest of this article traces the hazardous trek that many Haitians are taking to reach the United States from Brazil or Chile, with special attention to the passage through the so-called Darien Gap in Panama, and the growth of a Haitian diaspora community in Mexico.

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Yates, C. (2021, October). Haitian Migration through the Americas: A Decade in the Making. Migration Policy Institute. https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/haitian-migration-through-americas