Diaspora

‘Helpless': Haitian-American Couple Shares Their Story of Immigration Limbo – NBC 6 South Florida

An American man is frustrated with the U.S. immigration system after spending nearly four years trying to legally bring his wife from Haiti. 
Michael Donald married Bertha in 2018 and soon after, they started her immigration process. Donald says Bertha still hasn’t been granted an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
“They’re messing with people’s lives,” Donald said. “You know this is four years I haven’t been able to have my wife in the U.S. I could have already had a child. So much could have been happening and while we have this porous border in Texas and Mexico and yet the legal immigration way don’t know what’s happening.”
Donald says he can no longer travel to the Haitian town of Jacmel because it’s too dangerous to get there.

“There’s a lot more crime in the streets,” he said. “I’m afraid to go back to that town because it would just draw attention to her for her to be kidnapped.”
Attorney Patricia Elizee says the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Haiti isn’t operating at 100% due to the political and civil unrest. 
“Even as an attorney, sometimes I feel helpless because we’re following the law and procedures and doing the follow-ups asking what’s going on with these cases, and they’re telling us the same thing for all of them,” Elizee said. “They’re behind and we need to wait.”
Donald tells us it’s crossed his mind to bring Bertha to the U.S. by land or sea, but ultimately it’s just too risky. 

“I don’t have access to anyone with an airplane or a sailboat and I’m certainly not going to let her be raped going through the cartel border, even if we could get her a visa to Mexico. So no,” Donald said.
Since October 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says they’ve had encounters with almost 39,000 Haitians nationwide by land and sea. 
“If [the U.S. government] doesn’t intervene and come up with a solution, these boats that we’re seeing coming to the shores of Florida, they’re not going to stop,” Elizee said.

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