Fort Lauderdale, Sep. 22, 2021 – After speculation emerged on Wednesday that the U.S. was preparing to send Haitian migrants to the Guantanamo Bay detention center, U.S. government officials rejected the rumor.
“DHS is not and will not send Haitian nationals being encountered at the southwest border to the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantanamo Bay,” Marsha (Catron) Espinosa, a DHS spokesperson tweeted.
The rumor stems from a federal job posting for Creole-speaking security officers to staff the detention center in Cuba.
The job, posted Sept. 17, states that at least 10 percent of the security firm’s maximum of 50 guards for the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay must be fluent in Spanish and Haitian Creole, according to federal staffing site Sam.gov. Media reports quickly said the staffing requirement was in preparation for Gitmo, as the base is commonly known, to receive the migrants from Del Rio, Texas.
“The MOC has been used for decades to process migrants interdicted at sea for third-country resettlement. The request for information (RFI) recently posted is a typical, routine first step in a contract renewal, and unrelated to the Southwest Border,” Espinosa said.
A surge of nearly 14,000 migrants arrived at Del Rio, Texas, over the past two weeks. The U.S. started sending migrants back to Haiti on daily flights to Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien Sep. 19. It also released some to relatives or friends in the U.S., allowing them to wait in America for asylum hearings.
As of Tuesday, about 8,600 migrants were left, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told AP.
In the past, the U.S. government had sent about 13,000 Haitian refugees to Guantanamo Bay, in 1991 and 1992. Haitians had fled Haiti by sea then after Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown.