Brave 10-year-old Ronyde Christina Ponthieux records video plea to save Haitian protected status
The typical American 10-year-old child is probably not recording diplomatic pleas to the American president. But that child probably also does not have to hope the president will extend temporary protected status (TPS) for people from Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras. Unfortunately, Ronyde Christina Ponthieux’s family story positioned her to express far different concerns than typical childhood worries.
Ponthieux, an American citizen and Miami native of Haitian ancestry, recorded an insightful video directed at President Donald Trump on behalf of her family and immigrant communities throughout the U.S. at risk of return to their countries of origin. “They are not criminals,” Ponthieux said during the four-minute-long video. “They are hardworking, honest people who just want a safe place to raise their families.” She also appealed to Trump’s own origins as coming from a family of immigrants and that of his wife Melania.
One week ago, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced the executive agency decision to end TPS for Haitians with a delayed effective date of 18 months. As it currently stands, their protected designation would end on July 22, 2019.
Without an extension of status protection, the girl’s parents could be forced back to Haiti. Her family, like many others in Black and Brown immigrant communities, could be involuntarily divided. This familial impact would also coincide with health care and business concerns that arise when meaningful contributors are taken out of the equation. Ponthieux’s father is a registered nurse who would not be able to help patients in the U.S. and would not have the same professional resources available in Haiti.
In 2010, many Haitians fled the island of Hispaniola and came to the United States after a catastrophic earthquake. That 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed at least 300,000 people, according to Haitian governmental figures. The natural disaster displaced hundreds of thousands of Haitians and destabilized an already economically vulnerable West Indian country.
Some immigration advocates interpret the Haiti decision as foreshadowing the fates of many others. “The time is now,” Natalia Jaramillo, an advocate for women’s organizations, immigrant rights, children and families, told the Guardian. The We Belong Together organization member called TPS “the last line of protection for these families. We cannot have more kids separated from their parents.”