Thousands of Haitians live in Tapachula, most by circumstance as they wait for immigration documents that allow asylum seekers to continue traveling outside the border town. While waiting, many Haitians rely on informal work and the generosity of friends or relatives abroad to survive.

A Haitian woman walks along Central Poniente Ave. in Tapachula. Although the numbers of Haitians in Tapachula has diminished, between 4,000 and 7,000 Haitians live in the city. Most are waiting for immigration documents to travel to other cities.
A group of asylum seekers wait for the Mexican Commision for Refugees Help, COMAR, to reopen in Tapachula. Asylum seekers usually wait for hours, in the rain or harsh sun, for appointment services.
Noel Gener, 34, is among the many asylum seekers in Tapachula. In 2011, he left Haiti for Venezuela, where he became an agroindustrial engineer. After economic conditions deteriorated in Venezuela, he migrated to Brazil, where he lived for three years before traveling to Mexico.
In the last three months of 2021, the Haitian population of Tapachula exceeded 30,000, but now little more than 5,000 Haitians live in the city.
With economic opportunities in Tapachula being limited, many Haitians, like Mackendy Dorce, 38, join the informal sector. He has been selling oranges to earn a living.
Haitian vendors gather near Benito Juarez Park, a few feet from Sebastián Escobar market, where all kinds of items are sold.
Because street selling is prohibited Benito Juarez Park, municipality inspectors make the rounds in the main square checking, and warning vendors to clear the area.
Valentina Joseph, 26, is among many Haitians vendors who set up shop around Sebastián Escobar market. Her earnings barely allow her to survive in Tapachula. “If people don’t come to get braids,” she said, “there’s no money to pay rent.”
A Haitian man folds the Haitian flag after the funeral ceremony for Leo Larose, 45, who died after being found dehydrated and undernourished. The ceremony was organized by members of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, which recently opened an office in Tapachula.
Haitian migration to Mexico seems to be decreasing. In April 2022, 905 Haitians requested asylum, a 60% decrease in applications per month since the year began.

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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