PORT-AU-PRINS ( Associated Press) – Hundreds of Haitians flock to Port-au-Prince’s sole immigration office daily to process passports in hopes of soon being able to legally live in the United States under a new immigration plan. will be selected for.
The rush has been growing since US President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the United States would accept 30,000 people each month from Haiti, Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. Those selected will be able to work in the country for up to two years if they have sponsors and if they pass their background checks.
Those selected will need a passport to travel, which has led to overcrowding at the immigration office in the Haitian capital.
“I’m here because I want to leave Haiti, but I don’t want to risk it on a boat,” said 30-year-old teacher Jennifer Leonard, referring to the large number of Haitians who have died on boats trying to get to the United States. Is.
He said, “It would be nice to go with my two children so that they have a future, but I am not prepared to risk them dying on the way.”
That’s why he chose the recently announced legal route rather than join the thousands of Haitians caught and deported at the US-Mexico border.
On Wednesday, crowds gathered around the immigration office under the scorching sun to apply for, collect or renew passports, or inquire about the status of their applications.
“Is that my name? Is that my name?” People would ask every time an officer went to the fence and took someone’s name.
Gary St. Paul, 25, was in a rush to collect his passport.
He previously worked as a hotel concierge in the neighboring Dominican Republic until his contract and passport expired, forcing him to return to Haiti, where he remains unemployed.
“Haiti is under siege,” he said. “The gangs are controlling everything. If I get the chance, why shouldn’t I go?”
Associated Press writer Danica Coto contributed to this report from San Juan, Puerto Rico.