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To Whom It May Concern: My name is Maica and I immigrated from Haiti after the deadly earthquake in 2010. There I was buried under a building for six days and was presumed dead. My eleven year old little brother and my aunt died right next to me, and both decomposed on top of me during the six days that I was there. When they finally unearthed me, although my little brother had died, I managed to survive. After battling an infection that couldn’t be treated, I had to have both of my legs amputated. Luckily I was flown to New York where I was hospitalized for many months and had many, many surgeries.
Here, I was helped by many strangers who became my family over the years. I was blessed enough to get a scholarship to a lovely prestigious high school. I was able to graduate and go to college. Over the years, I was helped by the Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR), an organization that responds to the needs of Haitian refugees and immigrants, for which I am a volunteer. During my schooling, I volunteered for several other organizations such as The Epiphany Soup Kitchen, Surgeons of Hope and Methodist Hospital. I was also able to work at my high school’s summer camp, the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Then I attended nursing school for three years where I got my Associate in Nursing Sciences.
I was able to obtain my license as a registered nurse soon after. I already got accepted into a Bachelor’s program, which would take me 1-2 years to complete while I seek employment. I was offered 3 jobs right after graduation that I had to turn down because my work authorization was expiring in 6 months. I am now unable to work because I still can’t apply for work, since my current work authorization ends on January 22, 2018.
I currently live with my mother who used to be a nurse in Haiti but now works as a home attendant. Her work has allowed her to pay our rent and other utilities as well as her taxes. Every 3 years or so, my prosthetics legs have to be changed, which is something I will not be able to obtain if I return to Haiti. We entered the country with a special visa called Humanitarian Parole because of my injuries, but we got qualified for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when President Obama designated Haiti following the earthquake. We have had this immigration status for the past seven years and it has allowed us to work, pay taxes and obtain medical coverage.
On November 20, 2017, the Trump Administration terminated TPS for people of Haiti. Our current status will expire on July 22, 2019, which means that my mother and I will be forced to go back to Haiti. We left Haiti under terrible conditions but additionally my father, who remains there, is an abusive man who has abused/threatened my family for years. He has told us that if we ever go back, he would have us both killed for sure. The government has decided to send us back but the country is not yet equipped to receive all of us.Going back would mean going to a place of uncertainty, violence, abuse, injustice, etc. The U.S. is now what I call home, and I have been working so hard against really difficult odds to make a life for myself, and now it seems like it might still end in tragedy. A lot of us have lost so much in Haiti but we were able to build a life for ourselves here, and contribute to our community and the economy of the U.S., while trying to help the reconstruction of Haiti.TPS is not a status that allows one to apply for permanent residency so we haven’t been able to seek any other way to stay in the U.S. Living with the uncertainty of a temporary immigration status has proven to be a daily life of anxious anticipation. But I do believe that if enough people believe in us, a way to call this country “home” is possible. I ask you to please join our fight for a permanent solution, and see it in your heart to help us find a way to become good, contributing citizens of this country.
Together we are fighting for a permanent solution for all TPS holders. Join us as we stand in solidarity with all undocumented immigrants in the struggle for permanent residency. If you are a TPS holder or know anyone with TPS who would like to join us in our self-advocacy efforts, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to take our stories and experiences to legislatures in Washington D.C. to advocate for our communities until we find a permanent solution.
Thank you for standing with us in the fight for immigrants rights!