MIAMI (WSVN) - In 18 months, Haitian citizens in the U.S. temporarily will be forced to go back to the island, but citizens and lawmakers are gearing up to battle the Trump Administration’s decision.
Early Tuesday morning, protesters marched outside President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, holding signs that read, “Our voice! Our power!”
South Florida leaders and lawmakers also spoke out, Tuesday, in defense of the Temporary Protected Status program, which has allowed almost 60,000 Haitian citizens to live and work in the U.S. since the 2010 earthquake on the island nation.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke to the public in disgust at the administration’s latest move. “This is a matter of decency,” he said. “This is a matter of common sense. This is a matter of respect. This is a matter of compassion for those in greatest need.”
“I’m here to tell you this will destroy families,” said Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall of Miami-Dade County Public Schools District 2. “I want you to know that I believe that this is cruel and wrong.”
Many leaders are asking for officials to come up with a permanent solution since Haiti is unequipped to deal with the return of tens of thousands of people.
“We’re going to continue to advocate. We have bills in the hopper, we have bills that will help give Haitians green cards and a path to permanent residency,” said Florida’s 24th District Rep. Frederica Wilson.
“This is only a tragedy if Congress fails to act,” said Florida’s 26th District Rep. Carlos Curbelo. “There is a solution, and it could actually be a solution that is much better than the TPS programs for Haitians – for Hondurans, for Salvadorians, for Nicaraguans – and that is a permanent legislative fix that will guarantee these fine members of our communities the rest of their lives here in this great country and in our community.”
In a news conference with Haitian community activists, a young girl spoke about how the United States has become home for her and her family.
“I have trouble sleeping at night sometimes because I know that there’s a possibility me and my family may be deported,” said Ronyde Christina Ponthieux before breaking into tears. “People are stressing because knowing that there might be a possibility of them being deported is a huge thing, and I love my dad, I love all my parents, and all these people, they’re important to me.”
Ponthieux, whose parents have temporary protected status, is begging the Trump Administration to reconsider. “We matter. How could you do this to us?” she said. “How can you deport these people who have been here for so long. They have been contributing to the social economic and political fabric of this great nation.”
Some said that one of the worst parts about this is when Trump campaigned in Little Haiti, they said he led them to believe he was on their side.
Back over in Palm Beach, dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Mar-a-Lago estate to protest the ending of TPS for Haitians.
“I lost everything I have in Haiti,” said one protester. “My mom, my family, my dad, everybody. They are living under the tents, so I am here. The TPS helped me to work.”
Others who gathered in the area see the situation differently. “Come on back and come back legally,” said Gene Huber, a Trump supporter. “I mean, it’s not that hard. It really isn’t. Whatever they got to do, come back legally. This is America. There’s no more nonsense. No one is gonna get killed by illegal immigrants no more.”
Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.