By Paul Jr. Prudent
Amid the Haitian migration crisis in the United States, several Haitian community organizers and civic leaders called for a “united national voice” to speak for and propose a sustainable solution. The call came during a virtual panel on Oct. 21, organized by The Haitian Times.
“We are missing one national voice,” said Carole Barotte Joseph, a retired college president who volunteered with Houston Haitians United to help at the top.. “We need one national organization that at the strike of a moment — whatever occurs, whatever the issue — that can stand up and represent the Haitian community.”
Following the influx of mostly Haitian migrants camping at the border in Del Rio, Texas, thousands were permitted entry into the U.S. while about 8,000 were repatriated to Haiti. With the crisis unfolding on U.S. soil — rife with televised mistreatment and inhumane conditions on display — the community leaders on the panel said Haitian organizations must come together to help implement policies to protect the Haitians’ dignity.
“The situation is not over yet,” said James Pierre, founder of the nonprofit Houston Haitians United. “It’s important as a diaspora for us to get united and organized. We are going to help, but we just want the other Haitian communities to be organized and be able to help as well.”
Many volunteers and groups went to Del Rio to help as immigration officials began clearing the encampment. However, with more than 1 million Haitians living in the U.S, according to the 2019 U.S. Census, there are enough compatriots in the diaspora to financially support the creation of an organization that will speak on behalf of the entire Haitian community during such moments of crisis, Joseph said.
Thousands of Haitians are still in Mexico waiting to cross the U.S. Border, according to multiple reports, with many more on their way coming from Central and South America. Many of the migrants are fleeing violence, economic oppression, nutritional deprivation and lack of employment, and they plan to seek asylum in the U.S.
Marie Perreira, an immigration lawyer, called the Haitian migrant situation a humanitarian crisis. The best way to address the problem is to prioritize humanitarian-based relief for those people crossing the border, she said. She cast doubt on the likelihood of them receiving asylum, as many of the migrants would not meet the stringent requirements.
During the virtual panel, participants agreed that there is a need for Haitian organizations to work on the legal aspect of the issue with lawmakers in the government for more welcoming immigration policies. There must be a significant presence, in terms of power, and the Haitians must be front and center where policies are being made and discussed.
“In order for Haitians to influence policies at the national level, in order for that Haitian voice to have an impact, that Haitian voice must be there, it must be organized,”said Jocelyn McCall, a human rights activists and CEO of JMC strategies.
The civic leaders said while working on a plan to help the Haitian migrants to settle in places across the U.S., the community should not forget about the chaotic situation in Haiti which is the main reason that people are living. Everyone can play a role and help to improve the living conditions in the country.
“Haitians really have to organize [themselves] to help Haiti do what it needs to do to keep people in their country,” said Joseph