A South Florida family is breathing a sigh of relief following a federal judge's recent ruling that blocks the Department of Homeland Security from forcing tens of thousands of Haitians to return to their native country.
Rony Ponthieux, a licensed practical nurse, has called South Florida home for 20 years. He has a wife and two U.S.-born children.
Ponthieux also benefits from Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. On Thursday, a New York judge issued a nationwide injunction that blocks the Trump administration's plan to end TPS.
"It's a relief now because we know now that they cannot really deport us, and we have a chance for Congress to pass an immigration bill," Ponthieux said.
This has been an ongoing fight for Ponthieux and nearly 60,000 Haitians since the Trump administration terminated TPS for the group. Haitian recipients had until July of this year to leave the U.S.
"It was very catastrophic," Ponthieux said. "It was a disaster for us because I was thinking about either going back to my country and leaving my children here."
U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz ruled on a lawsuit filed by Haitians in Florida and New York that challenged the Trump administration's decision to end the status granted to Haiti after its 2010 earthquake. The program has allowed about 300,000 people from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and other countries to stay in the U.S. for years following natural disasters or violence in their home countries.
Kuntz said the plaintiffs offered persuasive evidence that the policy change was motivated by "a discriminatory purpose of removing non-white immigrants to the country."
The government is expected to appeal the ruling.
Ponthieux's 11-year-old daughter Ronyde, who has been very active in her family's fight for permanent residency, said this ruling feels like a boost for her family.
"It's gotten me to be smarter mentally, physically, and everything," said the 11-year-old, who has been an active participant in the nonprofit Haitian Women of Miami, and even addressed President Trump in a video message to urge him to reverse his decision.