MONDAY (CBSMiami) – Dozens of Haitian-American children attended a rally in Miami Monday, attempting to persuade President Donald Trump to extend, if not make permanent, temporary protected status (TPS) that has protected Haitians from deportation since an earthquake ravaged the nation in 2010.
When CBS4’s Gary Nelson asked the children how many of them have parents facing deportation, almost every hand went up.
Monday night at midnight is the deadline for those given TPS to apply for a six month extension that would protect them through January 22nd of next year.
Activists believe many, however, are not registering for the extension, perhaps fearful there will be no more extensions, and choosing instead to hide in the shadows.
“We are asking you not to panic, because we realize a lot of you TPS recipients are panicking,” said Marleine Bastien of the organization Haitian Women of Miami.
Instead, immigrant activists and community leaders urged those, documented or not, to get involved.
“We are going to fight, and if we need to take it to the streets, we will do what needs to be done,” said Alix Desulme, a North Miami city council member.
It was a collaborative rally, as Latin-American activists joined in the cause. Many from a variety of Central and South American nations with TPS are also due to be expelled next year.
“We are not going to accept the wholesale deportations of hundreds of thousands of Haitians, Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Salvadorans,” said community activist, Jack Lieberman.
Some in President Trump’s party are pushing back against his determination to deport working, tax-paying immigrants who aren’t committing crimes.
“We need to find a path for them to stabilize their relationship, to be able to become eventual citizens of the United States,” said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
She could have been talking about people like 10-year-old Vanessa Joseph’s mom and dad who could be returned to disease ridden Haiti, still staggered by the 2010 earthquake, a cholera epidemic and the ravages of Hurricane Matthew.
Vanessa addressed President Trump at the Monday rally.
“In your election, you said that you want to make America great again,” the child said. “The only way to make America great again is by letting my people stay. My people are from Haiti, Honduras, Salvador, and Nicaragua.”
Vanessa then lead the crowd in a chant: “What do we want? PPS! When do we want it? Now!”
PPS stands for permanent protected status.
Barring a change in Trump administration policy, however, hundreds of thousands of now protected immigrants will get their deportation orders in January, leaving the fates of an estimated two million American – born children hanging.