‘The pressure on Washington to do something will become irresistible’

In the wake of Moise’s assassination, an unspoken concern of regional governments, including the United States, has been that political instability in Haiti could drive new flows of migrants toward their borders — what is often referred to in Washington as a migration “crisis.”

Former US Ambassador to Haiti James Foley warned this week in The Atlantic, “Should endemic chaos turn into complete anarchy, sending Haitians in large numbers onto rickety boats heading toward Florida, the pressure on Washington to do something will become irresistible.”

But crisis stalked Haitians for months before Moise’s death, and little protection has been offered against the deadly forces that push some to flee abroad. Last month, police in the nearby Turks and Caicos Islands intercepted a boat carrying 43 Haitians, and handed them over to immigration authorities for repatriation.

For Chrisner and Merline, the shadow of fear that lies over Port-au-Prince now has a clear and specific shape. They are now too afraid of being kidnapped again to return to work, leaving home only for church, which has become a lifeline for them.

Both would like to apply for asylum abroad, but the process of obtaining the necessary documents has been mired in bureaucracy.

Contemplating escaping Haiti, their faces show little hope. “The way things are, we cannot get a break,” Merline said. “We cannot leave the country and we cannot live in security inside of it.”

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