COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) -A retired Fort Benning podiatrist gave his reaction to the recent effort to remove thousands of mostly-Haitian migrants from an encampment at the Texas border.
Dr. Val Almonord grew up in Ounamithe, Haiti, before he moved to the United States in 1969. Dr. Almonord said growing up in Haiti was a great experience.
“When I was growing up in Haiti, it wasn’t the way it is right now. It was a peaceful country, we were poor and didn’t have much money. But it was a peaceful country, there was no shooting around, no gangs running around,” Dr. Almonord said.
Dr. Almonord told News 3, while growing up in Haiti, his family wanted him to become a doctor. But it was extremely hard to get into the Haitian medical program because it required special permission. So, Dr. Almonord found a way to study medicine in America.
“You had to have very special permission to get into medical school and my family didn’t have that type of connection. So just by sheer luck and my mother’s prayers, the consulate in Haiti was accepting applications for visas. I went and applied, it’s like the lottery I guess, and they called me, I got a permanent visa to the United States,” Dr. Almonord said.
After getting his visa and studying medicine, Dr. Almonord was a Podiatrist at Fort Benning for 29 years. Dr. Almonord also spent time serving in the Air Force and the Army. Since living in the United States and accomplishing so many things. Dr. Almonord can’t help but feel concerned for his native country and those who live there.
On Sept. 26, 2021, an image of a Texas Border Patrol cracking a whip at Haitian immigrants went viral. Dr. Almonord said he was at a loss for words when he saw the picture.
“Hurtful, to see what they’re doing to them. That reminded me of how a slave catcher goes around and round up slaves and bring them back to the plantation,” Dr. Almonord said.
Dr. Almonord feels President Biden could’ve handled the situation differently.
“I don’t agree with the way President Biden handled it, he could have handled it differently. He could have let them apply for asylum or even get a different reinforcement in the picture,” Dr. Almonord said.
Dr. Almonord told News 3 he noticed a huge difference in how refugees from Afghanistan were treated versus those coming from Haiti.
“It’s just racism, you just treat different people depending on their color. People from Syria, people from Afghanistan coming in and they welcome them but see Haitian, doesn’t matter which way they got here, they don’t treat them the same way. I have to give Biden credit because in January or March he gave Haitians that had been here for a while temporary protection called TPS. I have to give him credit for that, but the way he handled the last wave of Haitians, it’s inhumane,” Dr. Almonord said.
On May 22 a temporary protected status was put in place for Haitian immigrants who were already living in the United States. The protection status will allow Haitian immigrants to live, and work in the U.S. for 18 months. Dr. Almonord said the citizens of Haiti aren’t doing well.
“Not good at all, gangs and just different areas that have gangs here, gangs there. Cars cannot cross from one point to another and you have no president, you know they assassinated the president,” Dr. Almonord said.
After seeing everything that has happened to Haitian immigrants and the past events that have gone on with African Americans in the past year, Dr. Almonord believes racism is still prevalent in America.
“You mean racism still exists, that’s what it is. You move from slavery to Jim Crow, to mass incarceration, racism still exist. It exists in housing, it exists in jobs, if I go apply for a job and a white person applies for a job and we go to interview, we could have the same credentials but he would get the job before me,” Dr. Almonord said.
Dr. Almonord told News 3 he wants things in Haiti to get to a good place again.
“I like to see it get better, I’d like to see political stability, get someone who cares and get political security. Where a lot of people here would like to go back and invest in it, a lot of people like to invest. But with political insecurity nobody can see the good in it to invest their money. I’d like for them to get rid of the gangs, that go around and scare people all over. I’d like to see the United States also help Haiti get better,” Dr. Almonord said.