“I will fight until the last minute.”
It’s a fight Rony Ponthieux and nearly 60,000 other Haitian TPS recipients hope to win. The Trump administration terminated the temporary protection for the group and now they have until July of 2019 to leave the United States. The termination of the program is a harsh reality for Ponthieux and his family who have called South Florida home for the last 18 years.
“We don’t know what to do or what to choose. [Go] back to Haiti with our kids or leave them here. It’s very scary, “Ponthieux explained. “I have no house in Haiti. I have nothing left in Haiti.”
Ponthieux left his native country in 1999 for political reasons. His request for political asylum was denied back then. However, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Ponthieux and his wife qualified for the TPS program.
“I was able to work, to drive. I was already a Licensed Practical Nurse. I went back to school. I became a Registered Nurse. And, with that I worked and I take care of my family and some friends and some people in Haiti,” the father of two said. He currently works at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
“I pay taxes, I’m saving lives. I am not a criminal. I’m not a terrorist. I am a health care provider. I contribute. And, the only thing I need is a safe place to raise my family,” Ponthieux said.
He and his wife have two U.S.-born children – a son, 17, and a daughter, 10.
TPS beneficiaries from Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador have about 273,000 U.S.-born children, according to the Center for Migration Studies.
Ponthieux’s daughter, Ronyde Christina , is active in the family’s fight for permanent residency. The 10-year-old attends meetings and press conferences held by the non-profit Haitian Women of Miami. She is even featured in a video message addressed to President Trump. In the video, the 5th grader urges Trump to reverse his decision.
“It’s a bit disappointing, but I am not ready to give up yet,” Ronyde said. “Whether I’m with my parents or without my parents, I know I will keep fighting hard so that they can stay with me.”
The family says the government should not remove good people from the U.S.
“There are bad people, we are not,” said Ponthieux.
The father of two said they will sit tight, hoping for a solution from Congress before the 2019 deadline.
“I will fight. I will show myself. I think that the best thing is to fight.”
For tips on what to do as a TPS recipient ahead of the July 2019 deadline, visit cclsmiami.org.