Why the American embassy in Haiti is telling Haitians to ‘not come over’

Nii Ntreh Mar 25, 2021 at 07:00pm

March 25, 2021 at 07:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Nii Ntreh

Nii Ntreh | Associate Editor

March 25, 2021 at 07:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Joe Biden's response to the police killing of unarmed Black man Daunte Wright infuriated many Black people and members of his own party. The president had urged protesters not to turn their protest into looting. Photo Credit: ABCNews.go.com

On March 24, the Twitter account belonging to the United States Embassy in Haiti tweeted two separate quotes by President Joe Biden directed against immigration to America, and the tweets have reportedly left many Haitians and non-Haitians puzzled.

In Haitian Creole the first post read: Pa kite vilaj ou, vil ou kominote ou – which the account itself translated as “Don’t leave your town, your city, your community”. The statement was attributed to Biden but with no additional details or context.

The second tweet was Mwen ka di sa byen kle: pa vini, meaning “I can say quite clearly, don’t come over.” As at the time of going to press, the tweets combined have been retweeted nearly 5,000 times with the second garnering the most engagement, perhaps because of the pointedness of the message.

For many, the immediate reference that came to mind was the ongoing mass deportations from the United States of Haiti nationals. Under a 1994 Public Health Service Act known as Title 42, the Biden administration has deported more Haitians in a “few weeks than the Trump administration did in a whole year”, The Guardian reported. The former administration used Title 42 as well and even though the Biden administration says it wants to have a moratorium on the number of illegals immigrants, it is not slowing down on sending Haitians back home.

However, the Haitian Times news outlet has also quoted the country’s chief envoy to the US, Bocchit Edmond, who claimed that the tweets were not for Haitians but rather for those migrating illegally through the southern border.

“Our understanding is that these statements were made at a press conference regarding the issue at the U.S.-Mexico border, rather than in relation to Haiti. I’m confident we can expect for [sic] more clarification on this matter,” said Ambassador Edmond said.

Measured against what is currently going on, it is not likely that most Haitians or Americans would believe the tweets were not aimed at Haitians in particular. Many of the tweets that responded to the American Embassy communicated anger and frustration while others compared Biden’s policy on immigration to Trump’s and concluded they were no different.

On Thursday, the acting US Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Julie Chung, tweeted that America understands “that as people endure pain & hardship, they will seek greater economic opportunities & safer communities for their families…[migrating from] Haiti & countries in Central America.”

She added that the administration was committed to “promoting safe, orderly, and humane migration throughout the region”.

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