When Donald Trump glided down the escalator with his Slovakian-born wife in tow and went on to disparage Mexicans, receiving no meaningful outrage from the American public, that’s when I knew we as Haitians were in trouble.
Over the course of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, I tried to convince myself that there was no way America would elect Trump as its leader. But deep down, I knew that possibility existed. I tried to pull the emergency cord by telling Haitians he was an existential threat to our livelihood in this country. I was laughed at like a carnival sideshow.
After all, Trump had campaigned in Miami’s Little Haiti and he added fuel to fire regarding Haitians and their built-up anger towards Hillary Clinton. He even promised to be our advocate. The Haitian Times published a column a few weeks after his inauguration predicting he would rescind Temporary Protected Status (TPS), the program that allowed more than 60,000 hard-working Haitians to live here legally.
We have until July 2019 to hit the road back to our troubled homeland or be removed by force, if need be.
And after denying the inevitable for a long time, Haitian leadership is now furiously organizing TPS workshops, with others filing class-action lawsuits to halt that stay. Unfortunately, attorneys are having difficulty finding plaintiffs for their case. People are afraid to add their names to a legal case with worries of complicating their precarious legal status even further. Frankly, they don’t trust anyone on this issue. They would rather fly under the radar.
Another tactic Haitian leaders in the New York area are using is to organize a march. In the category of “you can’t make this stuff up,” there are two demonstrations on the same day for the same cause. Both rallies are for the same cause: a “March Against Racism and Bigotry” subtext is justice for immigrant families, TPS, DACA and the undocumented.
The conflict above unleashed a verbal fusillade on a WhatsApp chat group among the competing factions; akin to firing an AR-15 rifle equipped with a bump stock. It has been visceral, personal, and dispirited, as seen below:
“Very sad, that’s because contrary to the Dominicans and other groups who have a common interest most of us here have different personal agendas. While a few of us come with a real desire to help TPS holders. Others are using this opportunity to cover up for those responsible for turning Haiti into what it is today. Unless we address the real issues nothing will change. The initiative that we’ve undertaken will help the corrupt political leaders and hurt the Haitians.”
This sounds like the words of a level-headed individual, expect that person is a reverend and vice president of a group called “Haitians for Trump.”
Another member of the group shot back, quoting Matthew 7:15-20:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles. Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
To be fair, there were those calling for calamity and unity. Hopefully, the two sides can bury the hatchet and hold one march. Then, the group moderator chimed in:
“Let’s stay positive and help resolve the issues instead of adding more fuel to the fire.”
Where was the outrage when African American men and women were being killed by white police officers across this country?
Where is our indignation when the Dominican Republic passed a law to deport thousands of its residents because they are of Haitian lineage? Dominicans are still sending their citizens back to a land they do not know.
Why have we not called out our homeland where literally six families control the wealth of the country, subjugating black Haitians to lower-class status?
But it’s easier to march against white nationalists and racists than against Dominicans and Haitians of Middle Eastern ancestry who are as racists as their white counterparts.
Here we go again.