Haitian Americans and immigrants came together Friday to remember those lost in the devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed over 300,000 people. However, after racist remarks from President Donald Trump about the Caribbean nation, Haitians are fighting a new disaster.
News broke this week that during a meeting with congressional member at the White House, Trump allegedly called African nations, El Salvador and Haiti “s*hole” countries during discussions about immigration policy. He also questioned why more immigrants from Norway aren’t coming to America. Trump has denied using the word while others in the room said he did.
Many Haitians are currently in the United States as a result of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) seeking refuge. Trump wants to end the program that would send hundreds of thousands back to their home countries.
Critics of the president said his remarks were racist. Immigrations organizations, politicians and community leaders reacted quickly.
Congressman Eliot Engel, who is a ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a phone call he had with Haiti U.S. Ambassador Paul Altidor that Trump’s words are damaging for international relations.
“Engel conveyed his support and admiration for the people of Haiti and the Haitian-American diaspora community as they mark the eighth anniversary of the devastating earthquake, and assured the Ambassador that the President’s views do not reflect the character of our country,” his office said in statement.
As Haitian communities come together this weekend to commemorate eight years since the devastating earthquake, they are also letting their voice be heard about how they feel about Trump.
Elsie Saint-Louis, executive director of the Queens based organization Haitian-Americans United for Progress, said Trump let his racist attitude toward people of color show on full display. She added that her members are outraged.
“Trump’s disparaging remarks about Haiti, El Salvador and African countries are deeply disturbing,” Saint-Louis said. “They betray profound racism and ignorance of the challenges these countries face, in part because of decades of misguided policies imposed by the United States over decades.”
Haitian-born City Council Member Mathieu Eugene said is a statement that Trump’s comments stray away from America’s mission to welcome all immigrants. Eugene represents the city’s 40th Council District in Brooklyn, which is largely made up of Haitian immigrants.
“President Trump’s racist and incendiary comments about Haiti and Africa are an affront to the very values of our nation and of the American dream,” he said. “The country is deeply divided, and the President should be focused on bringing unity by creating the spirit of trust and respect and putting an end to the cruel and senseless immigration raids that are tearing families apart.”