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Palm Beach County Haitian community in shock over decision to end TPS program

Posted at 4:35 PM, Nov 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 20:45:21-05

Just days before thousands of Haitian families are about to sit down and celebrate all they are grateful for this Thanksgiving, they are facing the reality that their Thanksgiving holidays in the U.S. could be numbered. 

The president's decision to end the Temporary Protective Status program granted to Haitian and Central Americans has local families scrambling. 

The leader of a Riviera Beach ministry said she's heard of Haitians considering putting their homes up for sale and pastors looking for someone to take over their churches.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard said the Haitian community is appalled by the president's decision. 

It's turned into a busy week for Marie Antoinette Jean-Pierre at Valley of Love Ministries in Riviera Beach. The group recently moved from Broadway to 1538 Avenue E, and she's behind on collected food and clothes for the homeless this Thanksgiving. Now Marie has another task; to console and counsel Haitian families impacted by TPS. 

"My brothers and sisters, they are suffering. A lot of people they started selling their homes already," said Jean-Pierre. 

President Trump is ending the TPS program, causing nearly 60,000 Haitians living in the U.S. to leave and go back to Haiti by July 2019. 

"They come to America doing 2 to 3 jobs. A lot of them have big kids in school and elementary school. They do not want to go back home, for what reason?" said Jean-Pierre 

Palm Beach County commissioners recently passed a memorandum asking the president and Congressional leaders to support the extension of the TPS program. Commissioner Bernard, who was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti said the country has been devastated by natural disasters even after the 2010 earthquake that left hundreds of thousands homeless. 

"We can look at different options to try and see how we can save some of those people from being sent back to a country that's not prepared to welcome them," he said. 

Jean-Pierre said local families are praying for another solution. 

"There is still hope, there is still hope," she said.