US official apologizes for treatment of Haitian migrants

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITITI – A senior US official apologized on Friday for the way Haitian migrants were treated along the US-Mexico border, saying this is not the way customs officials or the Department of Homeland Security behave.

The comments from Juan Gonzalez, senior director of the United States National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere, came during a two-day official visit to Haiti to speak with local leaders on migration and other issues. .

“I mean it was an injustice, it was wrong,” he said. “The proud people of Haiti and all migrants deserve to be treated with dignity.

The US government has recently come under fire for its treatment of Haitian migrants, with images showing men on horseback, rounding up Haitian asylum seekers.

Gonzalez was visiting with Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, amid ongoing deportations of Haitians from the United States to their homeland. Since September 19, the United States has deported 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 along the border was a public health emergency and warned those considering leaving not to risk their lives.

“The danger 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 discuss migration, public safety, the pandemic and efforts to help them. affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit the south of the country in mid-August.

Nichols said that during their visit they heard many people talk about the challenges Haiti faces, noting that there is a “surprising” agreement on potential 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 of the involvement of the United States and other countries. in Haitian affairs as they attempt to recover from the earthquake and the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise at his private home amid an outbreak of gang violence. “However, in the United States, we are committed to providing the Haitian people with the support they need to be successful and implement their own vision. “

Nichols said the conversation with the prime minister was constructive, adding that the United States encouraged consensus and a holistic view.

“Haiti’s future depends on its own people,” he said. “The United States is committed to working with the Haitian people to support them in their efforts to bring prosperity and security back to their country. “

Associated Press writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed to this report.

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