These Caribbean Immigrants Are Mobilizing Voters Across The US

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Haitians in Miami show placards as Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden arrives for an event at Little Haiti Cultural Complex in Miami, Florida on October 5, 2020. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Oct. 28, 2020: In several key states across the US, a select group of Caribbean immigrants are busy mobilizing voters in their community to get out and vote before and on Nov. 3rd.

The Haitian immigrant community, some of whom threw their support to Donald Trump in 2016 and were repaid with the removal of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and the deportation of many, are now actively mobilizing for the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris Democratic ticket. It is a group that Biden, during his visit to Little Haiti in Miami recently, said can help him win in the battle ground state of Florida.

More than 1 million Haitians and people of Haitian descent live in the U.S., and small pockets popped up in Washington, D.C., as well Florida, New York, Georgia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Rhode Island and New Jersey to march on National Vote Early Day.

In the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metropolitan area, which covers Massachusetts and New Hampshire, there are an estimated 51,000 immigrants from Haiti. Dr. Geralde Gabeau and others with the Haitian-Americans United, are actively urging residents to trek to the polling place.

“We want to take a stand to say it is so important for us, our community members, to be involved in the voting process and to go and to vote early,” said Gabeau, executive director of the Immigrant Family Services Institute told Masslive.com.

In Miami’s Little Haiti, The Haitian Powerhouse, a newly-formed group that includes New York police brutality victim, Abner Louima, activist-singer Farah Juste, restaurateur Jensen Desrosiers, the mission to get out the vote among Haitian-Americans and other community members in South Florida is also strong, according to the Haitian Times. 

“We are seeing if we can [build] a better future with Biden-Harris,” said volunteer Ernst Derizier, of Miami.

In Connecticut, where about 20,000 Haitians live, Bianca Shinn-Desras told the Haitian Times, she is doing everything she can to galvanize the state’s Haitian-American community. Shinn-Desras and other volunteers are knocking on doors in the state’s small Haitian enclaves to provide information on how to vote, combating misinformation on Facebook and WhatsApp and working with pastors to deliver useful updates to their congregations.

There is also a push in South Carolina, with an estimated 1,106 Haitians, as Patrick Gue, a Greenville County pastor says they are even calling people in Haiti to reach out to their friends and family who are U.S. citizens to encourage them to vote, while in Georgia, which has a Haitian-American community of 30,763, Haitian-Americans like Saurel Quettan of the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re engaging with voters by ensuring that we can count them,” Quettan told the Haitian Times.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, said Stanley Neron, a community advocate, is taking another step by providing direct and simple translations to help older voters successfully cast their ballots.

“We’re giving election information to the elderly Haitian community in plain Creole and we’re really keeping it as simple as possible,” Neron was quoted as saying. “You don’t want to utilize the original linguistics of the ballot because it will get too complicated and you will lose them.”