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Former President Donald Trump went on Fox News Thursday night to suggest that it would be a “death wish” to allow Haitian migrants into the U.S. because they “probably have AIDS,” an echo of racist comments he made during his presidency referring to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”
Speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump complained that “nobody talks about” Haiti’s “tremendous problem with AIDS,” and falsely claimed that “we have hundreds of thousands of people flowing in from Haiti.”
“Haiti has a tremendous AIDS problem,” he said, adding that AIDS is a “step beyond” and “a real problem.”
Trump’s numbers, unsurprisingly, are way off: More than 13,000 Haitians have conditionally been allowed to enter the U.S. to await immigration proceedings, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last month. And while Haiti has a higher prevalence of AIDS than the U.S., new infections have also declined by more than 40 percent over the last decade, according to UNAIDS, and the percentage of children born to mothers who have HIV declined by nearly half since 2010.
Trump, who’s likely not up to date on his Caribbean epidemiology, went on to say that “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.”
“Sean, it’s like a death wish,” he added. “It’s like a death wish for our country.”
Tens of thousands of refugees came to the U.S. border late this summer, fleeing worsening conditions in Haiti following the assassination of the country’s president and the resulting political uncertainty, and yet another destructive earthquake, both of which happened this summer.
The abysmal treatment of refugees at the border burst into public view when U.S. Border Patrol agents were filmed threatening Haitian refugees while on horseback. The Biden administration ended the use of horse patrols there and opened an investigation into the officers’ conduct.
While some Haitians have been allowed into the country to await immigration and asylum proceedings, thousands have been deported back to Haiti under a Trump-era usage of the public health order Title 42, which Biden has continued. This decision has prompted the resignation of multiple State Department officials, including the senior envoy for Haiti policy.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Biden’s predecessor hated Haitians coming to the United States. During one meeting with members of Congress in 2018 about protections from refugees from Haiti, El Salvador, and some African countries, Trump reportedly asked: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” (Trump instead suggested that the U.S. admit more migrants from Norway, an overwhelmingly white, European country with no refugee crisis.)
He reportedly singled out Haiti in particular. “Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said at the time. “Take them out.”