IMMIGRATION: While US Democrats, Republicans and the President bicker over a border wall, Chèche Lavi shows what whimsical policy measures mean to real people.
Willemien Sanders
Dr. Willemien Sanders is a regular critic at Modern Times Review.
Published date: February 12, 2019

After a 35 day-long shutdown, costing nearly 6 billion dollars, the US government has reopened, temporarily at least. At the same time, its president threatens a state of emergency, having spun his much desired border wall into an issue of national security. Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, real people continue making the effort to legally enter the US in search of a better life – as the eternally advertised «American Dream» invites them to do. With news anchors trying to follow the on going quarrel between the president and politicians, and late night hosts continuing to mock the situation, flourishing with each new announcement (and tweet), the seemingly whimsical policy decision affects many of these real people – a dynamic that seems largely overlooked.

Temporary protected status

Chèche Lavi, Creole for «looking for life», portrays two such real people: Laureus «Robens» Gasgasha and James Dorcelus, Haitian men who we meet at the Mexican – US border. Like many others, Robens and James fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to find work outside their devastated country. Originally, Brazil offered construction opportunities with both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics coming up.

Laureus «Robens» Gasgasha

Once these tournaments concluded, however, the country’s economy collapsed forcing the two men to move on. With the US allowing selective entry under the refuge of its Temporary Protected Status (TPS) policy, Robens and James took the long and challenging journey north.

While Robens has no home or family left in Haiti, James dreams of a reunion with his fiancée.

TPS is given to citizens from a number of countries affected by war or natural disaster, amongst which Haiti is one. It does, however, force many to wait months for their application interviews. It is during these months that director Sam Ellison and his team, …

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