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Haitian Community Activists, Miami Advocates and TPS Holders Condemn Trump Administration Decision to End Temporary Protected Status for Over 50,000 Haitians

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Speakers discussed Florida-specific impacts and consequences of the revocation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians living in Florida

Facebook Live of the press conference is available on the Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami fan page

MIAMI, FL – In a press conference this afternoon, Haitian community activists, Miami advocates, and a TPS holder condemned the Trump Administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. The speakers also provided a comprehensive breakdown of the consequences of the revocation for Florida. Last night’s unprincipled decision to end TPS gives the 50,000 Haitian nationals who have been living in the United States following the devastating 2010 earthquake an 18-month period to return to Haiti or become subject to detention and deportation.

Marleine Bastien, Haitian Women of Miami, said:

As Thanksgiving approaches, tens of thousands of Haitian nationals and their American relatives will not be thinking of dinner as usual after the Trump Administration decided to revoke Temporary Protective Status (TPS), which has allowed over 50,000 Haitians to live legally in the United States. This decision in effect tears countless families apart. These families are worried they will be sent back to a country that still has not recovered from a 2010 earthquake that destroyed the capital, and that more recently was ravaged by hurricanes that hit its agricultural heartland. We now urge Congress to consider the regional instability that would be caused by sending back such a large number of individuals. They should also consider all the contributions Haitian TPS holders have been making to the United States. But above all, these TPS holders have made their lives here and have American children and relatives they fear leaving behind. Congress should use this time to approve a permanent solution that gives them a path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship.

Cheryl Little, Americans for Immigrant Justice, said:

On the eve of Thanksgiving, the day we are supposed to be welcoming strangers and sharing our bounty with others, we learned that TPS for Haitians is ending. It is a cruel and painful reminder that this Administration seems to care little about Haitians and other TPS recipients who’ve been in this country upwards of 20 years who have among them 275,000 children whose families now face being torn apart. We’ve been receiving frantic calls from Haitians for months now since the first 6-month extension was announced. We’ve spoken to children afraid to go to school, we’ve spoken to their parents are afraid to drop them off at school, go to the doctor’s office or even grocery shopping. Today that fear has only grown. That said, we are tired, we are exhausted, but we are not giving up. We have 18 months to do everything in our power– continue working with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to get Congress to do the right thing and fix our broken immigration system.

Steve Forester, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said:

The DHS decision completely ignored the two massive blows Haiti suffered since the [2010] earthquake. Haiti had never had cholera in its history. In October 2010, UN troops inadvertently introduced it an 10,000 have died and more than 800,000 sickened. It’s still unchecked. Then, 13 months ago, Hurricane Matthew– the worst storm since to hit Haiti in 53 years– destroyed livestock, infrastructure, and killed 1,000 people. It cost Haiti $2.8 billion, which is equivalent to 22% of the nation’s GDP. The country is reeling from these blows. Therefore, this is a cynical decision that is deeply destabilizing. We know the Trump Administration does not like immigrants, but there is a TPS law Congress passed that they are ignoring, therefore undermining the rule of law for all of us, not just immigrants and Haitians.

Ira Kurzban, Immigration Attorney, said:

We intend not to remain passive in regards to the decision last night to ruminate Temporary Protected Status. From a legal point of view, Haitians in the United States literally check of every single category for Temporary Protected Status. Given political instability in the country, given repeated environmental disasters and given the fact that the third category for TPS is that it would be difficult for people to return to the country. We know that Secretary Duke in her decision did not consider the cholera epidemic in Haiti; did not consider the two earthquakes that have caused substantial and internal damage within the country; did not consider the political instability; and did not consider as a practical matter the effects of the earthquakes. Earthquakes as we know take many years to recover from. We are here today to announce that we do intend to take legal action against the Administration. We think the decision was not only ill advised, but morally bankrupt like many other things in this Administration in respect to immigrants and refugees. This Administration has done more harm to refugees than any administration in our history actually. And this is just part of a more symptomatic and serious problem with respect to how they treat other human beings in our country and in other countries. We will bring a lawsuit on this. We will challenge the Administration and we will do it relatively soon.

Yolnick Jeune, Haitian TPS Holder, said:

I went to Washington, DC yesterday and spoke to over 30 U.S. Senators. I explained to them how hard it would be to go back to Haiti. I stand before you to speak on behalf of my family, as a mother of five children ages 7 to 25. It is heartbreaking to know TPS will end. I am very depressed knowing that I must go back to Haiti in 18 months. With TPS I was able to go to school and became a financial adviser. Two of my boys are in college and graduating soon. My other two girls are graduating from high school and should go to college. I hope Congress will work with DHS to fulfill our dream. Our dream is not to return a country in unstable conditions.

Lagrande Jeune, the U.S.-born daughter of Haitian TPS Holder Yolnick Jeune, said:

My message to President Trump is to look deep down in his heart and see how it feels when people are deported. That’s why I went to speak to Congress with my mother, to deliver this message.

Rony Ponthieux, Haitian TPS Holder, said:

I have been in this country for 18 years. I was able to go to school thanks to TPS. I am currently a registered nurse working for one of the largest hospitals in Miami. Yesterday was very shocking when I heard the news. We all know the situation in Haiti has not improved. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Seven years is not enough for it to recover and the country is still in critical condition. I have a home and a job here. In Haiti I have nothing. Therefore, we ask Congress to provide a permanent solution so we can stay.

Cristina Ponthieux, the U.S.-born daughter of Haitian TPS Holder Rony Ponthieux, said:

How can people who have been here for so long, like my mother and father, be deported when they have been contributing to the economic, social, and political fabric of this great nation? How could [the Trump Administration] do this to me, to us, to my family? I love my family and I cannot imagine my life without them. What am I going to give thanks for on Thanksgiving Day? How will my parents be able to put food on the table in Haiti? Provide shelter and school for me? I know a lot things about Haiti, but I have never been there before. After the 2010 earthquake, the cholera outbreak, and the hurricanes it is too much for Haiti [to handle]. President Trump, you are the son of two immigrants. You are also very smart. You married an immigrant woman. Imagine what it feels like for TPS recipients to leave their U.S.-born children behind. Think about me, think about LaGrande, and other children of TPS recipients who could have to accompany their parents back to their countries of origin in dangerous and life-threatening conditions. I believe I deserve to stay. I believe my parents deserve to stay. I believe all TPS recipients deserve to stay.