Canadian rock band Arcade Fire paused their Saturday night performance at the University of Miami to give the stage to a 10-year-old Haitian-American girl who advocated for the extension of temporary protected status for Haitian immigrants.
Ronyde Christina Ponthieux, a Miami Shores Elementary student and young leader in the Haitian Women of Miami, was met with rousing applause and cheers at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables as she asked for an 18-month extension to the policy that grants Haitian immigrants temporary protected status in the U.S. The Trump administration extended the program six months after it expired July 22.
Thousands of Haitians in the U.S. face the possibility of being returned to Haiti if the program isn’t extended again.
“I’m here to talk about TPS because there are people who are not from the United States, and they come here to work and to live their lives, but right now we are in trouble,” she said.
Standing in the center of the arena, Ronyde said recipients of temporary protected status were hard-working people who contribute to society. She implored attendees to take to social media with the hashtage #SaveTPS.
Then she had a message for President Donald Trump.
“If you want to to help, if you have direct access to President Trump, please ask him to extend TPS for 18 months,” she said.
Arcade Fire, a group that isn’t shy about voicing opinions on politics, has had a connection with Haiti since its inception. Founding member Régine Chassagne was born in Montreal to Haitian immigrants who fled the island during the regime of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Her family’s story is memorialized in a song off the band’s debut album called “Haiti,” which the band played after Ronyde’s speech.
The band played the Little Haiti Cultural Center in October 2013 as “The Reflektors,” a nod to their fourth album that features several songs with deep influences from Haitian music.