Seven Case Profiles of Medical Neglect and Violence Against Haitian Migrants in Tijuana

“This is the life of migrants here, we are treated like animals”

San Diego, California, July 7, 2022 – As we hear stories of migrants all around the world suffering from neglect and abuse, leading to much pain and suffering and sometimes death, Haitian Bridge Alliance mourns those Haitian men and women who died so far this year in Tijuana, Mexico. We mourn alongside the five families for whom we organized the funerals for their loved ones and for the others that we accompanied on their journey, and for all those who lost their lives unbeknownst to us in Mexico. We also mourn the countless lives lost at sea, including the forty Haitians who died off the coast of Puerto Rico in May 2022, for whom we have only been able to recover eleven bodies.
Below are profiles of seven tragic deaths in Tijuana. From medical negligence to targeted violence, their lives will not be forgotten in their tragic journey from Haiti to foreign lands in the hopes of reaching safety in the United States.
At 18 years old, a young Haitian woman named J.L. had just arrived in Tijuana to join her father, who was waiting for her before attempting to seek asylum in the United States. She was taken to the hospital when she complained of severe stomach pains. She spent two days in the hospital and was then released with prescriptions for medications. Three days later she died due to medical neglect. She should have never been released from the hospital.
M.I., a 35-year-old Haitian man, was vomiting blood. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He was released soon after and subsequently died at his home due to medical neglect. He should never have never been released from the hospital.
C.A., a 29-year-old Haitian man, was not feeling well and went to the hospital. The hospital employees did not consider his case to be serious and told him to return another day. He died later in his home. It was another case of medical neglect because he should never have been released from the hospital, yet, the tragedy did not end there. His sister called an ambulance. After much waiting, the ambulance arrived and took him to the morgue for an autopsy. When the family picked him up from the morgue, C.A. was unrecognizable. He had been completely disfigured, cut up, and mutilated. His eyes had been gouged out, there was a big hole in the side of his head and it looked as if his side had been ripped open. The injuries resembled a victim of organ trafficking in Mexican state-run morgues. Why? Because his life, just like his death, was thought to have no value. As his sister mourned his death due to medical negligence turned into the most grotesque of tragedies, she said, “This is the life of migrants here, we are treated like animals.”

  • Indeed this was the reality for A.J., a 35-year-old Haitian man who was also a victim of violence and medical negligence, but in the opposite order. He was leaving the bank after having made a withdrawal. He was followed by uniformed men, then beaten and robbed. He was left on the ground and was taken to the hospital the following day by people who found him. The hospital refused to keep him even though he was so severely injured that he could not walk. He quickly deteriorated at home: internal bleeding, swelling around the eyes, and he could not eat, sleep, or sit. When his friends saw he was getting worse, they took him elsewhere to get examined but were only given an appointment to return in eight days for his results. He died four days later, before he received his results. 
  • At 36 years old, E.A. completes the list of those Haitians who died from medical negligence in Mexico. He also should never have been released from the hospital.

And then there are those Haitians who were victims of outright violence in Mexico.

  • C.F., a 30-year-old Haitian man who had been living in Mexico for a few years, was targeted in broad daylight. On January 1, 2022, he was on the bridge in Tijuana with other Haitians when a car slowed down and gunned him down. He died on the spot.
  • J.M. was a 28-year-old Haitian man who worked at a casino in Tijuana. Men came to his work, fired give bullets into him, and waited until he was dead before leaving.

This is the fate of more and more Haitian men, women, and children at the border in Mexico. A.J.’s friend summarizes the reality that Haitians face on their journey to the United States, “It is frightening because the same type of violence that we are leaving our country for is the same violence we are finding on our path to what we imagined was comfort.”