RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The images of mounted Border Patrol agents riding inches away from Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, rocketed across social media. Now, days after the U.S. sent most of the migrants back home to the island nation, Haitians who live in the Triangle say those pictures are one reason they're trying to help those who couldn't cross the border legally.
"I was shocked," said Mirlensa Azor-Sterlin with Haitians of the Triangle. "It's 2021, yet here we are with this picture that I felt, if it was not released folks would have probably stated, "It's not true, It's all a lie." And it has created more damage than good, for sure."
She left Haiti nearly two decades ago but keeps up with every challenge faced by those who remain there and those who left, fearing for their safety. From the earthquakes that further damaged an already storm-tossed Haiti, to the August assassination of its president, Azor-Sterlin said those who leave see the U.S. as a place where they can start over safely.
"And this is what they are seeking, right? This dream, to be able to work, to be able to make a living. To be able to take care, and afford the basic things of life." she said.
She knows the reasons for securing the U.S. southern border, especially health concerns and the need for vaccinations as the Delta variant continues to spread. She's also aware that some critics have no problem sending the migrants back to possible danger.
"Because they've not been in the situation. I've not been in the situation, but I do think there's more good that we can do, aside from sending them back to Haiti," she said. "A place that looks nothing like what they left, years ago."
That's why Haitians of the Triangle have plans for a productive conversation next Saturday.
"About what is it that we are going to do as a community, long term? Whether we adopt a neighborhood, a family, whether we create some sustainable changes amongst us here because it is critical. It's important," she said.
The meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.