FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ten thousand Haitian immigrants in Southwest Florida will face deportation due to the non-renewal of the Temporary Protection Status. Lee Memorial Hospital hosted a free legal clinic, Saturday, to help families impacted know their rights.
The hospital partnered with Americans For Immigrant Justice Organization led by attorney, Adonia Simpson, to offer individual meetings on the possibilities of attaining immigration relief, where a TPS person could find a way to stay in the United States. Simpson explained only 16 percent would be eligible for relief.
“Immigration court is death penally cases being heard in a traffic court setting,” said Simpson.
One of Lee Memorial Health employees, Ezechiel Jean Philippe, will be facing deportation come July 2019. He says the country is not ready to handle getting 60,000 people back from the U.S.
“I love my country, but it is not in the best condition right now to go back and have a normal life," he explained. "It's not ready economically or in the education system."
The Department of Homeland Security released this statement on the matter:
"Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens.”
Nevertheless, Simpson and Philippe hope new legislation will be made in time to keep families from being torn apart.
“Imagine if you have kids or you have children and in the next 18 months you will not see them again," said Philippe. "You will not know how they will do and that will really divide a family emotionally.”