Haiti has rejected as "racist and baseless" claims made by former US President Donald Trump that the Caribbean nation’s migrants entering the United States would put Americans at risk of contracting AIDS.
"So, we have hundreds of thousands of people flowing in from Haiti. Haiti has a tremendous AIDS problem," Trump said in a Thursday interview on Fox News. "Many of those people will probably have AIDS, and they're coming into our country and we don't do anything about it, we let everybody come in. It's like a death wish for our country."
Trump made the claim while the HIV prevalence in Haiti, as World Bank data show, has been steadily declining for the past 15 years and is currently estimated at a rate of 1.9 percent among Haitians aged 15 to 49.
The Haitian embassy in Washington condemned the "racist and baseless statement about Haitian migrants, in particular, and the Haitian population, in general, of Donald J Trump," and said, "These vile comments aim only to sow hatred and discord against immigrants."
The Haitian embassy also underlined that "civilized people... should not remain indifferent to this umpteenth denigration of the Haitian people by former President Trump."
The former US president had referred to Haiti and several African nations during a private meeting in January 2018 as "s**thole countries."
In recent months, the US southwest border has been inundated with a surge of unauthorized crossings not seen in more than two decades. Nearly 200,000 immigrants were arrested at the southwest border in August alone, according to government data.
Many migrants are Haitians who have been displaced by a powerful earthquake and devastating flash floods since July, when the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse unleashed a fresh wave of political turmoil and violence in the Caribbean nation.
The mid-September arrival of more than 30,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, who camped out for days under a bridge on the border between Mexico and Texas, brought US President Joe Biden's administration under fire from both Republicans and fellow Democrats for the way it has handled the crisis.
Over the course of less than three weeks, more than 7,500 Haitian migrants — 20 percent of them children — have been deported by US migration services.
Images of riders on horseback rounding up Haitian migrants and using their reins in an aggressive manner and the scene of dense crowds, sleeping on dirt in the scorching heat and with little access to food and clean water, drew condemnations from local officials.
Biden had repeatedly promised on the campaign trail to overturn the harshest aspects of Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.