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July 20, 2019

Haitian who started martial arts school for kids says Trump needs to rethink immigration policy

February 6, 2019

Gerald Michaud is one of the many Haitians facing deportation after the temporary protected status they received after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

WASHINGTON — Gerald Michaud has a message for President Trump at the State of the Union address: He is the kind of immigrant America wants, even if Trump doesn’t.

Michaud is one of more than 50,000 Haitians facing potential deportation after the Trump administration declared it was going to end the temporary protected status they got from being stranded in the United States when a mammoth earthquake devastated their homeland in 2010.


Michaud, 46, made his way to New York, got a job at LaGuardia Airport, and has since learned martial arts and opened two schools, one to teach kids.

His protected status allowed him to do that work, and support a wife still in Haiti and a son who had to be taken to Cuba for medical care after the quake.

He came to the Capitol to represent his fellow Haitians, and some 250,000 people from other countries whose protected status is also threatened.

“My message to President Trump is to do the right thing. Those people need a permanent solution,” Michaud said, sitting in the office of Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who invited him. “When they’re working here, they’re not only just themselves. There is a lot of community, a lot of people behind them. That is the reason why I’m here.

“We deserve to have a permanent solution because we fit in this country,” Michaud said. “If you kick 300,000 people out of this country, that’s a big tsunami, because I don’t want to say that, but you will kill a lot of people because they depend on them.”

Rep. Nydia Velázquez is seen with her State of the Union guest, Gerald Michaud. He is a Haitian living in Brooklyn with Temporary Protective Status. (Liz Lynch for New York Daily News)

Trump’s decision to end the protected status has been challenged in court, including a case involving Michaud, and has been stayed.

According to the suit, Trump showed racial animus against Haitians and others through numerous comments, including saying that the country doesn’t want Haitians because they “all have AIDS,” and Haitians and others come form “s—hole countries.”

At least one judge has pointed to those remarks as evidence of animus, and Velazquez agreed.

“There are some elements of racism as to the position this person [Trump] has taken with those countries,” Velazquez said.

She said that she wanted Trump to know about the courage and struggle of people like Michaud.

“Here you have someone who could be deported and yet he is not afraid of taking on Donald Trump,” she said. “This is the kind of people we want in this country. This is the kind of individual who really makes our city and our nation stronger.”

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