No Clear Plan for Bringing Haitian Migrants to Pennsylvania

By Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news. Send her your story ideas: Beth.brelje@epochtimes.us
September 22, 2021 Updated: September 23, 2021

Despite hints that some may be moved to Pennsylvania, no clear plan has been publicly defined for the fate of thousands of Haitian illegal immigrants gathered under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

City of Harrisburg spokeswoman Syeda Tayyeba told The Epoch Times she was aware of one national media report that some would be sent to Harrisburg, but the city has not received any indication of that.

The federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, sent eight staff and two buses Monday to Del Rio. Other federal prisons also sent staff.

“The Bureau of Prisons sent approximately 100 staff to provide transportation assistance at the border in Del Rio, Texas. We have no further information to provide at this time,” the Federal Bureau of Prisons representative, who did not sign their name, said in an email to The Epoch Times.

The bureau would not name which prisons sent workers, or say where its workers would be transporting the illegal immigrants.

A month ago, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration issued a press release announcing Pennsylvania would begin welcoming refugees from Afghanistan and help Haitians fleeing catastrophe after a devastating Aug. 14 earthquake.

As of last week, the Philadelphia International Airport processed 11,869 Afghan evacuees.

Non-profit resettlement organizations are helping Afghans find housing and meet their basic needs. One such group, Church World Service in Lancaster, confirmed to The Epoch Times that it has not yet been told to prepare for Haitians currently stopped in Del Rio.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services did not respond Wednesday to questions about when Haitian illegal immigrants would arrive, how many Pennsylvania would accept, or where they would live.

While Afghans are mostly classified as refugees, Haitians are migrants seeking asylum—and the process for legally entering the United States is different and lengthier.

But it’s all the same to Jean Guillaume, founder of the Philadelphia Haitian American Chamber of Commerce.

Haiti was already overrun with violent gangs when its president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in July, causing more political turmoil. Then the earthquake.

“We had the earthquake that destroyed three-fifths of the island, we are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, and you send people back like its nothing,” Guillaume told The Epoch Times in a phone interview.

“Haitians are treated differently than the Afghans. We deserve to live like human beings.”

He blames President Bill Clinton-era tariffs for destroying Haiti’s economy, and says the problems those policies created are still felt today.

“The Clinton Foundation destroyed our agriculture. We were self-sufficient. But they told us to stop planting rice and sold us rice grown in Arkansas. They forced us to search for work on distant shores,” Guillaume said.

“Give people fair treatment and the opportunity to live a better life in the United States. Everybody wants to have a better life for their family,” Guillaume said.

He believes racism plays a role in the treatment of Haitians. “Regardless of the color of our skin, they need to stop playing politics with human life. It’s not a game.”

Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news. Send her your story ideas: Beth.brelje@epochtimes.us