By Naeisha Rose
Guerline Jozef spends her days on calls, attending meetings and sending mass messages to anyone she thinks can help with her mission in helping forgotten or neglected migrants — especially those at the United States / Mexico border. As an activist for Haitian immigrant rights, and one of the co-founders of the Haitian Bridge Alliance(HBA), the past 3 years have been a busy one with Haiti continuously in the headlines and at the center of the country’s immigration debate.
At HBA, she serves as the executive director, where she works to bring awareness to the plight of the 3,000 Haitians stuck at the U.S./Mexico border and the countless others that made it through the border, but who are in detention prisons.
“We just started a scholarship programs for Haitians in Tijuana who want to go to the University there,” said Jozef. “We have established a scholarship for a group of 20 Haitians there. Everything will be finalized in May.”
Three of the students are pursuing pre-Med, two are pursuing engineering degrees and the other students are still deciding on their major, according to the nonprofit co-founder.
“It’s about $200 USD per student per month,” she said.
HBA is also creating a second scholarship for vocational schools in Mexico for 50 students.
“This scholarship will cover those who didn’t finish high school in Haiti who want to go into trade,” said Jozef. “If they did have a degree they would’ve had to pass a university test in Spanish to qualify, and for some that was a challenge.”
The students will be in school for about 10 months, similar to the U.S.
“We just don’t want them to worry about tuition,” said Jozef.
Earlier this year, Jozef was in Washington D.C. along with several panelists helping to explain the immigration crisis, what immigrants are up against and she also emphasized what supporters should do to help fellow Haitians.
“Basically, when you are an asylum seeker and you end up in an immigration detention center a judge has to decide if you are able to be released,” said Jozef. “Based on whether the attorney is able to make a case for you, or if your family will accept, then the judge will decide on a bond of how much they will release you. There is no reasoning of how much it will be.”
The bond could range anywhere between $1,500 to $80,000, according to Jozef.
“There is no exact science,” said Jozef who was exasperated. “They are at the mercy of the judge that day.”
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