e-Veritas Archive | January, 2010

School of Law students help Haitian immigrants apply for temporary protected status

Law student Nichole Geiger, left, and law school alumna Shirley St. Louis, a Haitian-American who speaks fluent Creole, assist one of the many Haitian nationals who showed up at Jackson Towers to file for Temporary Protected By Status.

University Communications Staff Writer

Clutching a large manila folder bulging with legal documents, Jimmy Fleurissaint sat in one of the chairs lining the wall of a small medical clinic and looked straight ahead, his face clouded with concern.

Fleurissaint, who arrived in Miami two years ago on a rickety boat from Haiti, said he couldn’t stop thinking about the wife and five children he left behind in Port-au-Prince. While his family survived the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that destroyed much of the capital city, “they have no place to live and not enough food to eat,” he said.

Securing a steady job would allow the 40-year-old Fleurissaint to earn enough money to help his loved ones back in Haiti.

The recent efforts of a group of University of Miami School of Law students may help him achieve his goal.

More than 60 of the students volunteered last Friday to help Haitian nationals apply for Temporary Protected Status, a government program that protects qualified immigrants from deportation and allows them to stay and work in the United States for 18 months.

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Eye on Haiti

A community forum and candlelight vigil on the University of Miami campus drew attention to the plight of Haiti’s quake victims and addressed strategies for the country’s recovery.

Students observe a moment of silence during the candlelight vigil that drew hundreds.

Students observe a moment of silence during the candlelight vigil that drew hundreds.

After the quake had subsided, Arielle Duperval and her two University of Miami classmates cautiously stepped out of the car in which they were passengers and began to walk the streets of Haiti’s capital city, witnessing horrific scenes of death and destruction.

“Take everything you’ve ever seen on CNN and multiply it by infinity,” said the 19-year-old Duperval, describing what she saw after last Tuesday’s devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince.

But amid the chaos, she also saw scenes of courage: men and women running fearlessly into buildings on the verge of collapse to rescue children trapped beneath the rubble.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Duperval was one of several speakers who addressed an audience of hundreds of students, faculty, and staff members who gathered on the UM campus Wednesday evening for a candlelight vigil honoring Haiti’s quake victims. She and her two classmates, Kristina Rosales and Austin Webbert, were in Haiti as part of Assistant Professor Louis Herns Marcelin’s initiative to establish community youth centers in the country when the earthquake hit.

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