'No dignity': Bay Area Haitian Americans stunned over scene at US border as migrants seek refuge

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In Northern California, hundreds of miles away from the nation's southern border, the feelings of shock and horror run deep.

"It's like there's no dignity. No respect, as a human being like everyone should be naturally. So it's like we lost that," said Jacqueline Lee.

Lee is the co-founder of Novato-based nonprofit, Haiti on the Rise.

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A Haitian immigrant herself, she was left stunned by the images coming from the U.S. and Mexico border this week.

For many members of the Haitian diaspora, such as Joanne Eloi, the treatment the migrants received at the southern border represent issues that go far deeper.

"How you huddle up farm animals and doing that to black people, it puts an association in people's head that black people are less than," Eloi said.

Eloi believes the migrants are acting out of desperation, fleeing poverty, disease and a lack of opportunity, trying to find a better life in America.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent state-owned vehicles to Del Rio to create a "steel wall" at the border. Democrats are angry the Biden administration used a Trump-era rule to allow deportations.


"Let that speak to your humanity, and speak to your representatives. And basically tell them how outraged you are at these gross injustices that are occurring before us," she said.

It's a sentiment that's been heard all the way in Washington.

Where Representative Barbara Lee is calling for action.

"We have to support the Haitians in terms of due process and not treat them any differently than we're treating the Afghans or any other migrant who's coming to America for a variety of circumstances," Lee said.

But until that action takes form, local Haitian-Americans like Lee say, they'll keep working to do their part.

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