WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Thousands of Haitian migrants are continuing to be sent home at the Texas border after attempting to cross over into the United States.
Some speculate the mass migration was fueled by recent events, but Wilmington resident and founder of Haiti Awake Becky Graves said many of the Haitians started their journey to the border years ago.
“The quote-unquote crisis at the border right now is a symptom of a problem. It is not the problem,” Graves said. “This migration does not have anything to do with the assassination, this migration doesn’t really have anything to do with the earthquake. This has to do with years of desperation, years of looking for a better opportunity, years of wanting something more from their lives.”
Graves has taken several trips to Haiti and has spoken to several of her friends still there since the events have unfolded. She said the images of the people sleeping under the bridge between Del Rio, Texas and Mexico are not drastically different from how many Haitians live every day.
“Desperation is driving this. Hope for a different future is driving this. The promise of opportunities that are not afforded in Haiti,” Graves said.
The solution? That’s something she’s not sure of. She said it’s not feasible or sustainable to send everyone at the border back, but neither is allowing all of them into the United States in this manner. What is for certain, is that life in Haiti is hard for many people.
“It was Martin Luther King jr who famously said, ‘you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you aren’t even wearing boots,'” Graves said. “Not having opportunities in your own country to work, to support your family, to even support yourself, drives desperation, takes away hope, and leads people to look for an alternate way to live their lives.”
While some do leave the country in search of more opportunities, Graves clarified that Haiti has a population of 12-million people so it would not be fair or accurate to say that every person living in the country feels this way. Many of the people she has spoken to are proud of their country and culture and have no intentions of ever leaving.
If you’re interested in helping those in Haiti, Graves said to develop relationships and invest in individuals monthly or yearly.