PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Members of Rhode Island’s Haitian-American community came together on Saturday to call for action following the crisis at the border and help for migrants being deported back to Haiti.
“They didn’t give him the right to even ask for asylum, but he has all the legal documents to prove that he was persecuted, but they didn’t actually ask him any question, without any respect for the international community,” Jean Ocelin said.
Jean Ocelin fears for his cousin who he said was deported back to Haiti from the United States – Mexico border this past week. He was one of thousands who were ordered to leave the border, some forcibly, due in part to a pandemic era health rule.
“It’s important to note that Title 42 is applicable and has always been applicable to all irregular migration during this pandemic. It is not specific to Haitian nationals or the current situation,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explained the administration’s reasoning for clearing some fifteen hundred hopeful migrants near the border, most of whom were Haitian.
“But two thousand were sent home. Sent home, that home does not feel home. That home is homelessness,” Ocelin said.
Ocelin told 12 News, he came to the U.S. legally, first with a visa, nearly twenty years ago. But he and another Haitian-American speaking through a translator said it’s different now, gangs are running the country.
“He says because of the situations back home, so they’re forced to come here.”
In July, the Haitian president was assassinated, then an earthquake devastated the already struggling island nation. Through each crisis, 12 News has reached out to New Bridges for Haitian Success, a Rhode Island organization helping the local Haitian community. They hosted a meeting on Saturday to discuss the crisis with Gov. Dan McKee and other elected officials.
“People need to be treated as humans. They need to be treated with respect, and when that doesn’t happen we need to call it out,” McKee said.
“Let’s channel our energies, our frustrations into changing this world that we see in front of us because refugees, immigrants to this country, are absolutely essential,” Sec. of State Nellie Gorbea said.
“This is one of those moments where it’s called upon us and our generation and our time to help determine who we are as a society and as a country,” Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.