As the United States orders the deportation of thousands of Haitian migrants crossing Mexico to Texas, a local nonprofit is dealing with those who have already made it to Houston.
Organizers of the nonprofit Houston Haitians United this week called for volunteers to cook and translate Haitian dishes, helping to bridge the linguistic and cultural divide. The organization has looked after relief efforts and recently worked with Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office to organize supplies drives in the wake of the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti this summer.
HHU is also using its platform to denounce immigration policies aimed at deporting recently arrived Haitians.
“Some people walked two months to come to the United States just to be deported to Haiti and start from scratch,” said James Pierre, president of HHU. “It’s heartbreaking because a lot of money, blood, sweat and tears have been invested in trying to find a better life.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, up to 3,000 additional Haitian refugees are expected to pass through Houston on their way to other destinations in the country. Most or all of those who do will have come from Del Rio, where tens of thousands of migrants were waiting under the international bridge between Del Rio and Mexico.
Florida and northeastern states like New York and New Jersey have historically been stopping places for the Haitian diaspora. There are over 500,000 Haitians living in the United States, nearly half of whom live in Florida.
Pierre is a transplant from Florida who says there are thousands of Haitians in the Houston area alone, and his organization is a way to build a community here.
“When I moved to Houston 18 years ago, it wasn’t around, you know? ” he said. “Haitians have been here since the 1970s. But the reason we created HHU was that they were here, people move here every day.
Buses arrive at a shelter in northwest Houston run by the Mormon Church since Monday evening, with two to three buses of about 65 people each, greeted by HHU volunteers, organizers said.
Rolanda Charles, the group’s secretary, helped coordinate volunteers via social media, posting a call for people who speak Haitian Creole and who can help make large casseroles of comfort food like chicken stew and Diri Kole, Haitian-style rice and beans. plate. Charles also posted the bus arrival times.
“We were there from 6:30 p.m. to almost three in the morning, distributing food, translating, putting people in touch… with their friends and families who are currently in the United States and helping them buy those bus tickets or tickets. ‘plane. to bring them home,’ Charles said.
As of Thursday, the number of Haitian migrants at the Del Rio Bridge had fallen to around 4,000, according to information from the Associated Press. About 1,400 had been returned to Haiti on 13 flights under the pandemic public health authority known as Title 42, while 3,200 others are in U.S. custody and under treatment, several thousand more returning to Mexico, according to the AP.
For those who are allowed to stay in the United States at least for the time being, Charles was hopeful that more organizations would help them along their journey, especially after seeing heartbreaking footage at the border.
“Every person, however they get to the border – whether they stay there or have to go back – must be respected,” Charles said. “They must be treated with respect, dignity and humanity. We are people at the end of the day. We are not animals. We are human beings.
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