TAMPA, Fla. — Haitian migrants seeking asylum in the United States and Mexico have been turned away and deported by the thousands. In recent months, the country's president was assassinated, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck, then just days later, Tropical Storm Grace.
Pastor Revient Lindor of First Evangelical Haitian Church of God recently took a trip to the Texas border to help Haitians looking to seek asylum in the U.S.
"They're looking for a better life," Lindor said. "They're looking for freedom. They're looking for health. And they're looking for security."
Lindor said he saw migrants being treated inhumanely by U.S. border patrol agents. Last month, images and videos were captured showing U.S. border patrol agents on horseback, using ropes to keep Haitian migrants from crossing the U.S. border.
"But when they come here, they are not criminals," Lindor said. "They are not terrorists. They are not the devil. The only come here looking for a better life."
Roughly 15 thousand Haitians came to the U.S. in recent weeks to seek asylum. Thousands are also doing the same in Mexico. Both countries are deporting Haitians by the thousands.
"They don't care about immigrant people, they don't care about poor people," Lindor said.
Lindor said he understands how so many migrants, all at once, are overwhelming for any country. But he hopes they'd be treated better when trying to seek asylum.
"They treat them like slaves," he said.
Vladamyr Deshauteurs' family lives in Haiti. Their home was spared by the August Earthquake, but the school his father works at was not.
"The school is going to begin tomorrow," Deshauteurs said. "Since they haven't rebuilt the school yet, my dad is trying to build some habitat so the students can come until the school is completely rebuilt."
Deshauteurs said his family is doing ok. But without the resources to rebuild, it will be a slow recovery.
"It's been hard but they're trying," said Deshauteurs.
A GoFundMe to help rebuild the school can be found here.
Deshauteurs said seeing how Haitians are being treated at the U.S. border over recent weeks has been frustrating. Especially when he is unable to help.
"I feel powerless," Deshauteurs said. "I pray for them and help them however I can."
Lindor's church, the First Evangelical Haitian Church of God, is planning another trip to Haiti to help those who lost everything from the earthquake.
For those looking to help, Lindor said the best way to do so directly is by reaching out to your local Haitian communities, like his church in Tampa.