He had to choose between leaving his family and his life in New York

News 20 August, 2017
  • Photo Benoît Philie
    Coby, wearing a shirt plaid, a cap, a blue bag and white on the shoulder, was about to cross the border on the rang Roxham on Wednesday. His grandfather, wearing a light blue shirt and a hat, didn’t say a word during all the waiting.

    Benoît Philie

    Sunday, 20 August, 2017 08:00

    Sunday, 20 August, 2017 08:00

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    Coby is crying. He and his family come to leave New York with the intention of fleeing the country, Donald Trump for good. But once made to the famous path Roxham, the police officer posted at the canadian border teaches them that there are chances that they are returned to Haiti. Words that have the effect of a bomb.

    A few steps from the border, the family hesitates in pain, screams and tears for nearly half an hour. Do they let 15 years of their life behind them and start all over again in Canada with only what they managed to cram in their suitcases ? Will they even remain in the country ?

    The parents and the grand-father of Coby decide to cross, at all costs. Him, he turns back, frightened at the idea of making a cross on the only life he has really known.

    Photo Benoît Philie

    Coby turned back and puts his suitcase in the cargo hold of the bus to go the opposite course, of Plattsburgh, New York.

    He looks at his family crossed the point of no-return, lower the head and rushes into a car in the direction of New York, to new.

    Here’s the story of this Haitian of 24 year-old, who had to make the decision the most heartbreaking of his life.

    The arrival at the border

    Wednesday, 18 h 30. It is a the end of the day like the other at the end of the path Roxham, in the State of New York.

    Migrants follow each other on this small country road that leads directly to the Canada. Coby is one of them.

    His family has traveled 600 miles by bus, taxi and on foot with huge suitcases to get to the border.

    Coby is with his father, his mother and his grandfather. A taxi will drop them off on the way Roxham : they came from travel the road from Plattsburgh, 40 miles away.

    They are nervous and nostalgic all four, but still smiling and confident. If they have decided to leave the United States after 15 years of living in New York, it is because they are afraid of being deported to Haiti because of the policy of immigration of Donald Trump.

    “These are 15 years of our life that we give up, 15 years of work… and this is all that remains for us,” said Coby, showing the bags on the ground around him.

    Photo Benoît Philie

    The young man was keen to be photographed from behind so as not to interfere with the process of immigration of his family.

    He explained that the renewal of their temporary protected status, which normally took a few weeks, until this time since more than a month. They have received letters telling them that they may need to return to Haiti. The family became very afraid and decided to leave.

    Coby has agreed to speak to the Newspaper before crossing the border, to the condition of silencing his family name, and he prefers not to show her face to prevent harm to the immigration of his family to Canada.

    The young man has the build of a football player. Cap on head, shirt plaid, two bags, a shoulder strap and a big rolling suitcase in hand.

    He speaks creole, ” a little French, but mostly English, as his parents. Coby is ” American “. He made his studies in New York, grew up in Queens. He has the accent of the inhabitants of the Big Apple.

    Although he lived the first nine years of his life in Haiti, it retains very few memories, ” he said. With him, it is in the United States and, today, it was with a heavy heart.

    “I’m just starting my career in investment real estate and I had to leave my job, my friends. I gave up my television, my finest clothes to work, ” he says. I took barely 5 % of all my stuff with me here. Now, I have to start all over again. “

    However, Coby has heard only good things about Canada. “It is a welcoming country where everyone is accepted. But we have been told that a lot of people trying to get there now and that we must hurry, ” he says, before following his family to the small portion of land that leads to Quebec city, a few meters away.

    The dilemma of Coby

    A dozen Haitians are already waiting in line in front of them. The insurance of Coby seems to crumble at every step and his posture changes, as if an invisible rope was holding him back firmly from New York. Then, comes the turn of his family.

    “Do you understand the French or the English ? request the canadian police officer, on the other side of the border. If you go here, you cross illegally in Canada. You will be placed under arrest. And you will not be able to return to the United States. To go legally, you have to go to the border with Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. “

    They also said that there are chances that they may not be able to stay in Canada and that they are returned in their country of origin at the end of the process.

    Coby knew nothing about it. He was sure he be able to return to Canada for good, without any condition. He learns now that he may be sent back to the country where his family has been threatened by a group of criminals, ” he said.

    All the hope he was wearing a few minutes earlier gave way to anxiety. His voice trembles when he asks his parents to discuss it before crossing. Away, they speak together in creole, for about ten minutes and eventually flag down a taxi that has just dropped other Haitians.

    They want to go to the customs official, to cross legally, but the taxi driver advised to Roxham. “It is here that you need to pass. Everyone is doing it. The police bully people, they do not tell the truth. Everything will be okay, ” he says.

    Coby can do no more. This is too much for him. It melts in tears. “I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to go there !” cries he with all his forces.

    His mother, a large lady with a stern face and hair pulled back, told him that he must leave, that they don’t have the choice. If he wants to return to New York, it is his decision. Coby screams clinging to his mother. He told his parents that he is young, he has all life before him and that he preferred to risk staying in the United States than going to Canada to end up being sent to Haiti in any way.

    His father, a man in his fifties to look sympathetic, trying to hold back his tears. It hides the face. The grand-father remains impassive. He does not say a word. Just like the taxi driver, the other migrants and the police in the distance, who cannot yet ignore the screams of the young in the heart and torn apart.

    His mother, serene, and told him that they’re leaving. She opens his wallet and gives him a hundred dollars for the return journey. They make goodbyes brief, but intense and leave everyone to their side. Coby, drowned in her tears and short of breath, turns around to see his family move to Canada. He made a hand sign and disappeared into a car.

    On the way back to Plattsburgh, New York is crying loudly. It hides the face, the head turned to the window.