MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - In the early 2000s, Rony and Marjorie Ponthieux came to the U.S. from Haiti seeking political asylum.
After the devastating earthquakes in 2010, the family, like 57,000 others, was granted temporary protective status, or TPS.
Thousands of Haitian parents now have less than a year to decide what to do with their American-born children. An immigration policy that allowed them to stay in the U.S. is set to expire next July.
Rony received a nursing degree, bought a Miami Gardens home, started a family and is now working in the respiratory unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
“I’m saving lives every day,” said Rony.
In the years since the earthquake, the government has repeatedly extended TPS, but this year the Trump Administration did not, citing improvements to the country.
“We are not on welfare. I don’t have any help from the government,” Rony said. “I pay everything. I pay taxes. I pay a lot of taxes.”
For parents like Rony, the heartbreak comes with his children.
He said he doesn’t want to take his American daughter to a country still in turmoil, where violence recently erupted over gas prices.
That also means he faces leaving her behind.
“How can I leave a young girl, 11 years old, to leave her and then go back to Haiti?” he said. “Who’s going to take care of her? Nobody can take care of her like I can.”
To date, there are 27,000 U.S.-born kids facing the same fate as his daughter Christina Ponthieux.
“I’d like to say to President Trump that tearing these families apart is not right,” Christina said. “It’s terrible, and thinking about it, it hurts me everyday.”
The Family Action Network Movement is moving forward with a fight for the parents and the kids.
“This is not the time to panic because there are four different bills introduced,” said Marleine Bastien. “There are lawsuits. We fought them in court before. We won. We believe that we can win again.”
Rony said he has hope but will also continue making plans for his family.
TPS for El Salvadorians, Hondurans and Nicaraguans will also end in 2019, putting roughly 300,000 people in line for deportation.
South Florida lawmakers on both sides of the issue have spoken out against ending TPS.
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