By Sam Bojarski
Broward County’s Haitian community showed its support for Joe Biden in full force, as the former vice president held a car rally to get out the vote.
Yvane Charles, of Coral Springs, was drawn to the Biden rally at Broward College North Campus because she supports the policies his campaign has laid out. A self-described “ diehard Democrat,” Charles attended the rally from her car with Jacklin Mesamour.
“We love his policies,” Charles shouted from inside her four-by-four, before driving away to beat the post-rally rush to the exit.
Held in Coconut Creek, a city about 16 miles from Fort Lauderdale, the rally was Biden’s last attempts to connect his message of economic reform to racial equality. The Democratic nominee discussed his goal of making Fortune 500 companies and individuals making more than $400,000 per year pay their fair share in taxes. He also criticized Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the president refuses to listen to science.
Acknowledging the Black Lives Matter movement, Biden promised to deliver on racial justice.
“We’re going to inspire a new wave of justice in America, a true justice,” Biden, 77, said. “It’s also about economic justice, justice in education, housing, access to capital, good-paying jobs.”
At least 100 cars were at the rally, filling the parking lot nearly to capacity. A group of about 20 Trump supporters were also on campus waving “Trump 2020” flags to passing vehicles.
Broward contains the largest Black population of any county in Florida, with more than 587,000 Black residents in a total population of 1.9 million people. It is also home to more than 116,000 Haitians.
With voter enthusiasm spreading widely throughout the county, Haitian-Americans have shown their support avidly for Biden-Harris in various forums, small discussions and signage.
Through phone banking, the Haitian-American Democratic Club of Broward County has reached out to about 15,000 Haitian-Americans countywide, encouraging them to vote. About 24 volunteers used the county’s voter data to track down voters with Haitian surnames, said the organization’s president, Ronald Surin.
Overall, enthusiasm seems higher than in 2016, Surin said.
“There [were] some issues regarding Hillary Clinton the last time,” said attorney Vladymir Champagne of Plantation, Florida. “Biden is less controversial.”
Haitians in Broward County are hopeful that a Biden administration will protect immigrants, including the nearly 60,000 Haitians nationwide with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Among Haitian-Americans, even those who are not TPS holders are concerned for family and friends who rely on the policy to stay in the U.S.
“Hopefully Biden will do something about TPS, either renewing it or allowing them to adjust their status and [become] legal permanent residents,” Champagne said. “That is the hope.”
Surin said he hopes a Biden-Harris administration will offer a path to citizenship for TPS holders and foster political stability in Haiti, which has been rocked by protests for much of President Jovenel Moise’s term.
Biden released a list of policy priorities for the Haitian community in early October. His Oct. 29 voter mobilization rally was his second visit to Broward County this month. He also visited Little Haiti in Miami on Oct. 5.
“We have had confirmation, a promise,” said Surin, about Biden delivering on his policy priorities for Haitians. “Biden [has] visited our community a couple of times, and he has [in] no uncertain terms promised he would deliver the same to us.”
Marie Woodson, a Hollywood resident and candidate for Florida House District 101, said voters have been enthusiastic about voting since polls opened Oct. 19. Despite rain during those first three days of early voting, lines in her city were long, the Hollywood resident said.
“People are tired, they’re saying ‘enough is enough,’” Woodson said.