PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti-A top U.S. official apologized Friday for how Haitian migrants are treated along with US-Mexico border, saying this is not how border officials or the Department of Homeland Security behave.
Comments from Juan Gonzalez, the US National security The senior director of the Council for the Western Hemisphere, came on a two-day visit to Haiti to talk to local leaders about migration and other issues.
“I want to say that this is an injustice, that this is wrong,” he said. “The proud people of Haiti and any migrant deserve to be treated with dignity.”
The U.S. government was recently fired for its treatment of Haitian migrants, with images showing men on horseback, referring to Haitian asylum seekers.
Gonzalez is visiting with Brian Nichols, U.S. assistant secretary for affairs in the Western Hemisphere, amid the ongoing expulsion of Haitians from the U.S. to their homeland. Since Sept. 19, the U.S. has expelled some 4,600 Haitian migrants from Del Rio, Texas on 43 flights, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Gonzalez said the gathering of migrants at the border was a public health emergency and warned those thinking of leaving not to risk their lives.
“The risk is too great,” he said.
Gonzalez and Nichols previously met with Haitian Americans and Cuban Americans in Miami on Wednesday and with Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, members of civil society and political leaders in Haiti on Thursday to talk about on evacuation, public safety, the pandemic and efforts to help those affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit the country’s southern region in mid-August.
Nichols said that during their visit, they heard many people talking about the challenges facing Haiti, noting that there was a “surprising” amount of agreement on potential solutions.
“There is no solution that will work for Haiti and its citizens to be imposed from the outside,” he said, referring to recent criticism about the involvement of the U.S. and other countries in Haitian activities as it tries to recover from the earthquake and since the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in his private home. “However, we in the United States are committed to giving Haitians the support they need to succeed and implement their own vision.”
Nichols said the conversation with the prime minister was constructive, adding that the U.S. encourages consensus and a holistic view.
“Haiti’s future depends on its own people,” he said. “The United States is committed to working with the people of Haiti to support as they work to restore prosperity and security to their country.”
Nichols said a technical team from the U.S. Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement will visit next week as Haiti fights an increase in gang -related violence, with the bureau’s assistant secretary visiting in the coming weeks. He said later this month, the undersecretary for civil security, democracy and human rights will visit other senior officials to discuss police and security issues.
Associated Press writer Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed to this report.