Any 10-year-old who records her own video address to a United States president is usually seeking high marks in fifth grade civics. For Ronyde Christina Ponthieux, the message is much more poignant – a personal appeal to Donald Trump not to tear her family apart. While Ronyde is an American citizen, born and raised in Miami, her parents are not, and they face deportation if Trump follows an expected path and ends the temporary protected status (TPS) of more than 50,000 Haitians immigrants living legally in the US.
After warning in May that Haitian TPS “beneficiaries” should begin preparing to leave, the Department of Homeland Security must announce by Thanksgiving Day its plans for the programme beyond the current January expiration date.
Immigration advocates fear the Trump administration will declare that conditions in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak have improved sufficiently to order those granted interim sanctuary in the US under TPS to return.
Families such as Ponthieux’s, with US-born children who have known no other home, would face unenviable choices: to split up if one or both parents are deported; try to build a new life together in an unfamiliar country where 80% of the population lives in poverty; or to sink into the shadows of an undocumented existence in the US, at risk of arrest, detention and removal.
“They are not criminals – they are hardworking, honest people who just want a safe place to raise their families,” Ponthieux, a young leader with the advocacy group Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (Haitian Women of Miami), tells Trump in her video calling for an extension of TPS for Haitians for a further 18 months.
“They pay taxes, they contribute to the social, economic and political fabric of this great nation. Ending TPS would not only harm families, it would be bad for business and bad for the economy.”