Members of a Haitian religion successful Philadelphia opened their hearts and pocketbooks to sponsor a household of immigrants. Then came another, and another.
Sept. 30, 2021, 3:00 a.m. ET
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — In aboriginal May, Rooldy Alexandre, a Haitian American pastor, answered a late-night telephone from a antheral speaking Creole who identified himself arsenic Josue Alexis and said helium had been pursuing Mr. Alexandre’s sermons online. “Pastor, I conscionable crossed the borderline with my large woman and young child,” the antheral said. “Can you help?”
They needed idiosyncratic to person them successful the United States.
“As a pastor, I americium utilized to calls from radical successful need. It was the archetypal clip I received a telephone from the border,” Mr. Alexandre, 53, said. “I conscionable had to act.” He agreed to bargain them level tickets.
Beersheba Adventist Church successful Philadelphia is present supporting 9 Haitians who person crossed the southwestern borderline successful caller months, including Mr. Alexis and his family. They are surviving successful a three-story clapboard location astir 20 miles distant successful New Jersey, their rent, nutrient and supplies paid for by 120 Haitian congregants who are pooling their wealth until the families tin go self-sufficient.
Mr. Alexis, his household and friends are portion of a surge of Haitian migrants that peaked this period erstwhile 14,000 migrants waded crossed the Rio Grande into the tiny Texas municipality of Del Rio, wherever they camped retired nether a span successful squalor.
The chaos, which led to bipartisan outrage successful Washington, prompted the Biden medication to statesman dispatching arsenic galore arsenic 4,000 of the recently arrived Haitians on deportation flights to Haiti — a state astir of the migrants had near years earlier for jobs successful South America.
Thousands much — chiefly families with young children, oregon susceptible large women — have been allowed to stay, often due to the fact that they could, similar Mr. Alexis, nutrient grounds of a person oregon comparative who could assistance supply a foothold.
The highly publicized crush of Haitians this period underscores the continuing trouble of deterring wide migration connected the southwestern border, adjacent with an arsenal of measures designed to dilatory the accomplishment of migrants during a pandemic. It besides shows the grade to which aboriginal generations of immigrants proceed to pave the mode for others who travel later, successful a signifier that is arsenic aged arsenic the federation itself.
Mr. Alexis, 25, had slipped crossed the Arizona borderline with his woman and 3-year-old lad a fewer months earlier the unreserved astatine the Texas border.
Toggling betwixt fluent French and Spanish, Mr. Alexis said it had taken much than a twelvemonth and each spot of his family’s savings to scope the United States from Chile, wherever they had been living. Covid-related borderline closures had stranded them for months successful countries similar Panama on their 4,700-mile trek implicit land.
They were nether nary illusions of ever gathering unchangeable lives successful Haiti, which has been plagued with governmental upheaval, economical dysfunction, civilian unrest, pack unit and earthy disasters successful caller years.
“To instrumentality to Haiti is to perpetrate suicide,” Mr. Alexis said. “I was consenting to instrumentality this arduous way to execute thing tomorrow.”
Before helium emigrated, Mr. Alexis had played guardant for a nonrecreational shot squad successful Port-au-Prince. As a teenager, helium had traveled to Minneapolis representing Haiti successful a younker championship.
By 2015, 2 of his older sisters had emigrated, 1 to Brazil and the different to Chile. After arriving successful Santiago successful 2016, helium recovered a occupation successful a chemicals laboratory and, connected the side, played shot for a semiprofessional team. The pursuing year, helium joined a chap Haitian, Antoinette Peroux, who worked arsenic a cashier astatine a Burger King. Antonio was calved successful 2018.
They managed, the mates said, but it was difficult to get ineligible imperishable residency successful Chile; immigrants without presumption were exploited and paid debased salaries. Ms. Peroux was passed implicit for promotions due to the fact that she was not Chilean, she said.
In 2020, the mates was paying adjacent attraction to the Democratic statesmanlike candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. He promised to reconstruct the anticipation of asylum for radical persecuted successful their ain countries and to beryllium kinder toward immigrants than the incumbent helium was moving against, Donald J. Trump.
“I decided that Chile was a archetypal step,” Mr. Alexis said. “To truly advance, we needed to scope the United States.”
He and his woman gathered astir $5,000 and began the trek to North America, by ft and by bus, sometimes paying smugglers to usher them on remote, perilous trails. At 1 point, they ran retired of nutrient and drinking water. Ms. Peroux continued to breastfeed Antonio to spare him from stream h2o that mightiness beryllium contaminated.
When Mr. Biden was elected, the household celebrated astatine a exile campy successful Panama, wherever they had been waiting for Costa Rica to easiness Covid-related borderline restrictions.
It was determination that they befriended Julien Cheridor, 53, a Haitian accountant who had besides decided to permission Chile. He told Mr. Alexis astir a pastor successful Pennsylvania whom helium had known successful his youth, and Mr. Alexis began listening to his sermons.
“The words of the pastor inspired me,” Mr. Alexis said.
By the clip they reached Mexico successful aboriginal 2021, Mr. Alexis heard that migrants who reached San Luis Río Colorado, a borderline municipality successful Sonora state, were managing to transverse into Arizona. From adjacent Mexico’s confederate border, they took a 19-hour autobus thrust to Mexico City, and past boarded different autobus for 34 hours to San Luis Río Colorado.
They crossed connected May 6 into Arizona, wherever they and different migrants were rapidly apprehended and loaded into a Border Patrol van that ferried them to a presumption for processing.
From there, they were bused to a installation successful Phoenix, wherever they were tested for Covid-19 and told to interaction relatives to publication tickets to their destination. Mr. Alexis tried to scope an uncle successful Boston; helium didn’t answer.
Fearing they were moving retired of time, helium thought of Mr. Alexandre.
After buying their level tickets, the pastor called an exigency gathering of the religion committee to sermon adjacent steps.
Riquet Brutus, a religion elder who had been a authoritative successful Haiti earlier fleeing the brutal authorities of erstwhile President François Duvalier, recovered a location adjacent Trenton, N.J., fractional an hr from Philadelphia, that could accommodate Mr. Alexis’ household successful 1 country — astatine the church’s expense.
The committee activated the church’s community-service group, which usually supports stateless shelters, to cod money, food, toiletries and apparel for the family.
On May 10, Antonio’s 3rd birthday, the household moved into a ample country connected the archetypal level of the large house. Twelve days later, they had a changeable of extraordinarily bully fortune: The Biden medication announced that it was extending impermanent protected presumption to Haitians who had arrived successful the United States connected oregon earlier May 21, allowing them to unrecorded and enactment successful the state without fearfulness of deportation successful designation of the hardships that existed successful their homeland.
No specified extortion was disposable to the thousands of Haitians who flooded into Del Rio successful September and were forced onto flights to Haiti.
“It was a acquisition from God,” said Ms. Peroux, whose babe is owed adjacent month. They instantly filed applications.
Less than a period aft the Alexis household settled into the location successful New Jersey, connected June 3, Mr. Alexandre received a substance from a migrant edifice successful El Paso. “Your household has arrived. Please publication their tickets,” it said. He was incredulous.
He called the number, and the telephone was passed to Mr. Cheridor, the antheral who had initially told Mr. Alexis astir Mr. Alexandre. Mr. Cheridor had conscionable made it crossed the border, and reminded the pastor that they had attended the aforesaid religion successful Haiti decades ago. The pastor remembered him.
In summation to asking for airfare and accommodation for himself, Mr. Cheridor had different favour to ask. Could the religion assistance a parent and girl helium had met on the way?
The church’s committee agreed to wage $1,300 successful airfare and to rent 2 much rooms, for $600 apiece, successful the beige-and-brown house. Mr. Cheridor took the attic. The mother, Louina Sylvain, 33, and her daughter, Louidjana, 12, occupied a country connected the 2nd floor.
Then successful precocious July, Mr. Alexis called the pastor again. This time, it was his sister, Marie, who had crossed the borderline with her hubby and toddler. She did not request assistance with airfare. But could the religion fto her household enactment astatine the house?
Building a coagulated foundation, helium said, tin beryllium challenging until radical person the quality to legally work. Mr. Alexandre has explained to his congregants that the families successful the location volition get connected their feet arsenic soon arsenic they get their enactment permits.
“The religion is doing immoderate we tin to enactment our compatriots,” helium said. “When determination is an emergency, we inquire religion members to springiness much than they usually give. That’s what happened successful this case.”
To support his shot skills strong, Mr. Alexis plays each evening but Saturdays, erstwhile helium goes to church. He has traveled occasionally to play successful a semiprofessional league successful New York, earning $200 for a fewer matches. Mr. Cheridon has done immoderate janitorial enactment to gain immoderate cash.
But they recognize that they are a load connected the congregation.
“Since arriving, the religion has had to assistance america with perfectly everything,” Mr. Alexis said arsenic his lad whizzed by atop a artifact Batmobile.
“I look guardant to managing connected my own, without depending connected others,” helium said. “There are different radical arriving who are going to request the pastor’s help.”