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US official in Haiti apologizes for treatment of migrants


A top U.S. official on Friday apologized for how Haitian migrants were treated along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it’s not how border officials or the Department of Homeland Security behave.


The comments from Juan Gonzalez, the U.S. National Security Council’s senior director 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 migrant deserve to be treated with dignity.”


The U.S. government recently came under fire for its treatment of Haitian migrants, with images showing men on horseback, corralling Haitian asylum seekers.


Gonzalez was visiting with Brian Nichols, U.S. assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, amid ongoing expulsions 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 along the border is a public health emergency and warned those who are thinking of 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 Prime Minister Ariel Henry, members of the civil society and political leaders in Haiti on Thursday to talk about migration, public safety, the pandemic and efforts to help those affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the country’s southern region in mid-August.


Nichols said that during their visit, they heard many people talk about the challenges that Haiti faces, noting that there’s a “surprising” amount of agreement on potential solutions.

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