MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Miami’s Haitian community call President Donald Trump’s about their homeland racist bullying.
During a Thursday meeting in the Oval Office to discuss immigration reform, President Trump questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from “s***hole countries” after senators discussed revamping rules affecting those from Africa and Haiti.
The Haitian American community has a lot to say in reaction to Trump’s remarks especially as Haiti remembers the 2010 earthquake that killed more than one hundred thousand people.
Dozens marched silently in Little Haiti Friday evening to remember that major historical moment in Haiti’s history.
Haitian activist Marlene Bastien addressed a rally just before marching.
“Haiti is not what he says it is, what he called it. Haiti is a proud nation,” said Bastien.
This as Haitian Americans are discussing the president’s comments.
“We were shocked to hear comments made by President Donald Trump, the leader of one of the greatest nations in the world,” said Bastien.
You could say Serge Toussaint is upset over recent disparaging comments made by Trump but a more accurate description may be that this Haitian American artist feels betrayed.
“You need to come out and apologize to Haitian people man! You wrong bro,” said Haitian American Artist Serge Toussaint.
Farah Larrieux is a Haitian immigrant in Miami who represents a national alliance of people like her who have been granted protections against deportation after natural disasters in their nations.
“This is beyond politics. The guy has no respect for anyone. I am trying not to cry,” Larrieux said. “I can’t understand how someone goes from making a statement in Little Haiti saying ‘I want to be the biggest champion of Haiti’ to calling Haiti a ‘s***hole.’ It makes me sick.”
She referred to a 2016 campaign stop in Miami’s Haitian neighborhood.
“This is beyond bullying,” she added. “This is a racial campaign against immigrants.”
Florida’s only Haitian-American state Representative from South Florida also remembers that campaign stop.
“And now you call us “s***holes.” This is, you know, what Trump doesn’t understand, immigrants make the country great. He’s talking about how he’s going to make America great, but it’s the immigrants that make America great,” said Rep. Daphne Campbell.
“It was like he was trying to channel Archie Bunker without the charm and it was quite upsetting,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski from the Archdiocese of Miami.
Wenski said he was disappointed, especially remembering how Trump courted Haitian-American voters during the campaign.
“Whether you vote for me or don’t vote for me, I really want to be your greatest champion and I will be your champion,” Wenski recalled Trump saying during the campaign. “That is the president breaking his promise. When he promised Haitians in Miami that he would be their champion and Haiti needs a champion.”
Toussaint was one of the many who came out for Trump in support back then.
“I came out for him. We were chanting and helping him to gain the presidency. You know what I’m saying but he’s quick to forget that he made us a promise. Now he switched on us,” said Toussaint.
Djenane Gourgue, of the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, says she is not letting Trump’s remarks affect her anymore, adding “his actions can probably hurt more.”
“We spend too much time commenting or watching or being pissed off at what Mr. Trump says. That’s what he does well,” Haitian-born Gourgue said. “Those words cannot affect me. He’s just being a bully.”
The comments angered Illinois state Sen. Kwame Raoul, whose Haitian parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s.
“I don’t think there’s any apologizing out of this,” the Chicago Democrat said of Trump. “He’s demonstrated himself to be unfit, unknowledgeable about the history of this country and the history of contributions that immigrants, particularly Haitian immigrants, have made to this country.”
Raoul, who was appointed to the Illinois Legislature to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama’s 2004 election to the U.S. Senate, added that it was a personal slight, too. His father worked as a doctor on Chicago’s South Side for decades, often serving poor and vulnerable populations.
“It makes me embarrassed to have this guy as the president of my country,” said Raoul, who’s running in Illinois’ March primary for state attorney general.
This comes at a time where America celebrates the life of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. Some are looking to his wisdom for help.
“We must come together or die apart as fools and it seems like we are dying apart as fools with all of the comments and all of the racism, all of the bigotry that is going on in our country. It is senseless that this is being spewed out of the White House onto our citizens,” said Dotson.
“Little Haiti for life. We are here to stay,” said Toussaint.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)