Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Haitians march in NY protesting Trump’s reported racist comments

Published:Sunday | January 21, 2018 | 11:09 AM
Haitians protesting in New York.

NEW YORK, CMC – Hundreds of Haitians marched from the Brooklyn Bridge to Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan Friday, protesting Trump’s reported disparaging remarks about the French-speaking Caribbean country.

Waving Haitian flags and dancing to the beat of drums and horns, the number of demonstrators multiplied as they streamed into Midtown.

“We have a President in power who knows no history and seems to have no education, who just disrespects any and everybody in the world,” said Marie Timothee, 28, a social worker born in Haiti and raised in Brooklyn.

The protesters took to the streets eight days after Trump was reported, in a White House meeting with lawmakers, to have described Haiti and African nations  as 'shithole countries' .

The President reportedly used the derogatory term to describe the countries with black populations while wondering aloud why the US wasn’t accepting more people from places like Norway, a predominantly white country.

“I am here with my fellow Haitians, and also our fellow Africans, to tell Trump he’s wrong the way he thinks about us,” said Sully Guillaume-Sam, 49, a priest at St Thomas Episcopal Church in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

“We bring a lot to this country, and he needs to be fair to us,” Fr. Guillaume-Sam said. “He needs to be a leader with heart, not the kind of racist leader he has been showing us he is.”

Meanwhile, Haiti has been slapped with a ban from Washington’s guest worker programme for Haitian nationals.

Effective Thursday, Haitian farmers and other labourers seeking to come to the United States as temporary, seasonal workers under the federal H-2A and H-2B guest worker programme, will no longer be eligible.

The temporary workers’ visa has for decades allowed hundreds of US farmers, hoteliers and other business owners to hire thousands of foreign seasonal workers.

But citing Haitians’ “extremely high rates of refusal… high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying the terms of their H-2 admission,” the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Haiti’s inclusion on the lists of eligible countries for 2018 “is no longer in the US interest”.

DHS also announced that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-member state of Belize will be banned, as well as Samoa in the central South Pacific Ocean.

The decision comes amid a push by the Trump administration to restrict immigration and the public outcry over the president’s alleged characterisation of Haiti.

It also follows another decision made in November, when the administration also announced an end to TPS for nearly 60,000 Haitians in July 2019, but Haitians must apply for re-authorisation to remain in the country until then.