haitian asylum seeker claudens joseph
Claudens Joseph with his wife Ludelande and their daughter, Djoubeline. Photo by Leonardo March

As the first of two daily busses to San Antonio pulled into a Stripes gas station in Del Rio, Texas, around 11 a.m., nearly two dozen Haitian migrants, some clutching young children, gathered around two picnic tables. 

The brand-new arrivals asked about the distance of the bus trip. Others called relatives in the United States, coordinating the purchase of tickets for future legs of their journey, including flights from San Antonio to destinations throughout the U.S. 

Claudens Joseph, 39, did not make it onto the morning bus, a standard Greyhound coach. Standing on the corner across the street, Joseph shared the uncertainty he faced — even after a two-month journey from Chile with his wife and four children that was already risky. One that brought on the birth of his youngest child in Mexico one month ago.

“I’m trying to get to San Antonio but the ticket is $35 per person, and I don’t have the money,” said Joseph, whose newborn is in a San Antonio hospital. “A friend is paying for my hotel here, but I’m trying to get to San Antonio to see my kid.”

Joseph is among hundreds of first-time arrivals in the U.S. released by immigration authorities after going through preliminary hearings. The U.S. is expelling single adults back to Haiti, but unaccompanied children and some families at the Del Rio, Texas migrant encampment have been released and given asylum court dates. 

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Claudens Joseph (left) receives food from a volunteer, on Sept. 21. Photo by Leonardo March

Once in San Antonio, Joseph said, relatives in Delaware will help pay for his journey to that state. There, they will provide some support while he faces uncertainties about the new land.

“My family is going to pay for the air ticket to Delaware, but I’m trying to get to San Antonio [first],” Joseph said. “I have to figure out how to pay for the bus, that’s my problem.”

Joseph did end up making it out of Del Rio. In the early afternoon on Sept. 22, he was waiting for his newborn son in San Antonio, before the next phase of his journey north.

“I’m in San Antonio I’m waiting for my son to be discharged from the hospital,” Joseph said in Spanish, via Whatsapp. “I haven’t been able to leave yet.”

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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Leonardo March is Brooklyn-based visual journalist from Puerto Rico and a Report for America corps member

Leonardo can be reached at Leonardo@haitiantimes.com

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