By Coralie Saint-Louis
When then-candidate Donald Trump met with a small group of Haitian Americans in Miami’s Little Haiti, he promised to be their “biggest champion.” Now, the tough on immigration president, who ran on a platform to build a wall on the southern border to keep out “bad hombres” from Mexico is going after visas for low-skilled workers from Haiti.
One week after it was reported that Trump allegedly referred to Haiti and other African nations as “shithole countries,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its decision to remove Haiti from the list of countries whose citizens benefit from the H-2A and H-2B visas.
DHS cited Haiti as not meeting the regulation standards due to Haitian nationals “high levels of fraud and abuse” and “high rate of overstaying the terms of their H-2 admission.” Haiti was added to the list by the Obama administration after the 2010 earthquake that left over 300,00 people dead. The work visas aimed to provide opportunities for seasonal workers in agriculture.
While this is seen as yet another effort by the Trump administration to push forward his “America First” agenda, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) calls the move a “senseless act” from a “racist and a hypocrite.”
Wilson whose constituents represent the largest Haitian-American population in the United States says that both countries benefit from the program: “The number of Haitian nationals who enter the United States each year on visas that allow them to perform low-skilled, seasonal work is negligible, but the impact is priceless because it enables people whose lives were upended by the 2010 earthquake to earn money to send back home, helping their families and Haiti’s economy. These temporary visa holders also help boost the economies of the states in which they work.”
This is not the first Trump policy to impact the Haitian community. The administration recently ended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for 59,000 Haitians that allowed them to live and work in the United States since 2010.
In his first year in office, the Trump administration deported more than 200,00 people, ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) for 800,000 dreamers, implemented a travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries, ended TPS for 200,00 Salvadorans and 59,000 Haitians, removed Samoa, Haiti and Belize from the seasonal workers program. It remains unclear who the president will come after next, but one thing is crystal clear, not everyone is welcomed in Trump’s United States.