Updated: Dec 2, 2021
New Bridges For Haitian Success Executive Director Bernard Georges is asking for support for Haitian refugees (WJAR).
Rhode Island leaders and humanitarian groups are making plans to help Haitian refugees at our southern border and those already in Rhode Island.
New Bridges For Haitian Success held a discussion Saturday morning to make state officials aware of their requests.
"We want people to support us and understand that these folks were forced to flee here, it's not something they do voluntarily it's because of the situations happening back home," New Bridges For Haitian Success Executive Director Bernard Georges said.
Georges wants to put pressure on the Biden Administration and stop deportations of people trying to escape gang violence and kidnappings every day in Haiti.
"We have over fifty Haitian refugees here in Rhode Island. They're hiding," said Georges.
He asked Rhode Island politicians to give Haitian refugees the same treatment they are giving Afghans.
Gov. Dan McKee, Mayor Elorza and other elected officials attended the discussion and were asked how they plan to help.
"First step is to get them vaccinated," said McKee. "We want to make sure everyone in the state is safe we're making sure everyone is vaccinated in the state of Rhode Island and then we'll meet with Bernard, he's a leader and we'll assess what the asks are and meet as many of those asks as we can."
"Whether it's distributing food to the local community, rallying the community for support when there are natural disasters in Haiti, there's just so many ways to help," said Mayor Jorge Elorza.
Rep. Anastasia Williams, D, Providence, took a different stance.
"We have to house our visitors soon to be residents, we have to feed them, we have to clothe them, we have to medically take care of them, we have to educate them, so why are we not doing that for our citizens that's been in need of these same things as well?" asked Rep. Williams.
She explained that all refugees are welcomed, but with approximately 336 homeless individuals on our streets, she believes the people of our state need help first.
New Bridges for Haitian Success is asking for leaders to step up and help with resources immediately.
"I'm hoping they'll come together to support them," Georges said.