PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – A top US official apologized Friday for how Haitian migrants were treated at the US-Mexico border, saying that is not how border officials or the Department of Homeland Security behave.
The comments by Juan Gonzalez, senior director of the US National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere, came during a two-day official visit to Haiti to talk with local leaders about migration and other issues.
“I want to say that it was an injustice, that it was wrong,” he said. “The proud people of Haiti and any expatriate should be treated with respect.”
The US government was recently criticized for its treatment of Haitian immigrants, with images showing men on horseback corrupting Haitian asylum seekers.
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Gonzalez was visiting with Brian Nichols, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, amid the ongoing expulsion of Haitians from the US to their home country. According to the Department of Homeland Security, since September 19, the US has expelled about 4,600 Haitian migrants from 43 flights from Del Rio, Texas.
Gonzalez said the gathering of migrants at the border is a public health emergency and warned those who were thinking of putting their lives at risk.
“The danger is enormous,” he said.
Gonzalez and Nichols earlier 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 address migration, public safety, the pandemic and help those in need. Talk about efforts. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the southern region of the country in mid-August.
Nichols said that during his visit, he heard many people talk about the challenges facing Haiti, noting that there is an “astonishing” amount of agreement on possible solutions.
“There is no solution that will work for Haiti and its people that will be imposed from the outside,” he said, referring to recent criticism about the involvement of the US and other countries in Haitian affairs as it seeks to recover from the earthquake. Tried and since the July 7 assassination of President Jovanel Mosse in his private home. “However, we are committed to providing Haitians in the United States the support they need to succeed and implement their own vision.”
Nichols said talks with the prime minister were constructive, adding that the US was encouraging a consensus and holistic approach.
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“The future of Haiti depends on its own people,” he said. “The United States is committed to working with the people of Haiti as they work to bring prosperity and security back to their country.”
Nichols said a technical team from the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement will visit next week as Haiti struggles with a spike in gang-related violence the bureau’s assistant secretary will visit in the coming weeks. He said that later this month, the Under Secretary for Civil Defense, Democracy and Human Rights will visit with other senior officials to discuss police and security issues.
Associated Press writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed to this report.