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In Miami, Haitian Immigrants Wonder What Immigration Action Means For Them

NADEGE GREEN, BYLINE: I'm Nadege Green and I'm standing outside of a record store in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood. Across the street, Marie Salomon stands outside her variety store where she sells tall silver pots, nail polish remover and Haitian art. She says many of her customers are upset and feeling left out of President Obama's new immigration plan. She's a U.S. citizen and she would like to see all who are in the country be covered equally by the president's executive order.

MARIE SALOMON: (Foreign language spoken).

GREEN: Many in South Florida's Haitian community will not benefit under the president's plan, which covers only those who have been living in the U.S. for more than five years. In Little Haiti, this news has been met with confusion and disappointment. Throughout the day, Haitian immigrants walk into the nonprofit Haitian Women of Miami. Marleine Bastien is the executive director and an immigration activist. She's disappointed that the president's executive order didn't cover even more immigrants.

MARLEINE BASTIEN: Do the right thing. Be inclusive and go big, Mr. President - go big.

GREEN: Bastien says it's important not to tear families apart no matter how long they've lived in the U.S. Here in this office, where immigrants meet with social workers, the news they're hearing is not good.

LINA: (Foreign language spoken).

GREEN: Lina arrived in Miami by boat from Haiti in 2012. She asked that we not use her last name because of her immigration status. Her American born daughter is nearly a year old. Lina is not eligible for a deportation waiver or a work permit because she's lived here for less than five years.

BASTIEN: Is that what we want, nation that deports millions of people and that separates family?

GREEN: Haitian activists like Bastien are planning a workshop to explain the immigration plan to the local community. She expects many in the crowd will walk away disappointed. For NPR News, I'm Nadege Green in Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nadege Greencovers social justice issues for WLRN.

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