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Experts: NYS Haitian legislative caucus needs more reps to meet community’s wishes

NYS Assembly Haitian Caucus (from left to right): Assemblymembers Kimberly Jean-Pierre, Michaelle Solages, Clyde Vanel, Rodneyse Bichotte and Mathylde Frontus. Photo from the Office of Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte.

This article is the first in a series about the 2022 federal midterm and state elections, supported by the Center for Community Media at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. The series examines the Haitian-American legislative caucus in the state assembly, the next generation of Haitian-American candidates, language accessibility in Brooklyn voting districts and housing assistance in New York’s Haitian-American community. 

NEW YORK — When last year’s Haitian refugee crisis in Del Rio, Texas hit the news in  September, several Haitian-American politicians from New York headed south to the border. With clergy and other immigrant advocates, they held press conferences and even met with congressional leaders. 

But once the Del Rio underpass was cleared and the headlines stopped, the longer-term needs of the refugees largely went unaddressed, community members said. The lack of a coordinated response left some wondering why Haitian-American elected representatives, who informally form the New York State Haitian Legislative Caucus — made up of assembly members Phara Souffrant Forrest, Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, Mathylde Frontus, Clyde Vanel, Kimberly Jean-Pierre and Michaelle Solages — did not do more to help Haitian refugees coming into the state. 

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