In Little Haiti, Wyclef’s plea to Trump: ‘You need to renew TPS’

Wyclef Jean performs during Sounds of Little Haiti at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex in Little Haiti on May 19, 2017. MATIAS J. OCNER For the Miami Herald

Hip hop star Wyclef Jean came to Miami to help Haitians celebrate their pride and their Little Haiti neighborhood.

But the Haiti-born star, concerned about the plight of tens of thousands of Haitians who could face deportation as the Trump administration decides whether to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program or terminate it, also turned his high energy eclectic performance into a plea.

Shortly after taking the stage after midnight Friday at the same Little Haiti Cultural Complex where Trump, on a campaign stop in September, promised to be Haitians biggest champion, Jean, rapped, “Donald Trump renew TPS.”

Then minutes later to the Fugees’ hit “Ready or Not,” rapped: “You need to renew that TPS; too many Haitians are feeling that stress.”

Haitian advocates like Marleine Bastien had been hoping that Haiti’s biggest celebrity, known for rocking Haitian pride and peppering his rap and song lyrics with Creole narrations, would say something about TPS.

“We are so encouraged,” she said, “by his strong stance for renewal…I know it warmed the heart of thousands of TPS recipients. I had a community activist say to me last night: If every musician did what Wyclef did last night, we would be so far ahead in this campaign for TPS renewal.”

The artist’s stance, she said, reminded her of 1997 when Jean stepped onto the stage of the Grammys as a member of the Fugees wrapped in the Haitian flag. The watershed moment, at the crest of an anti-immigrant wave, empowered millions of Haitians who had been battling stereotypes and feeling disenfranchised.

“Again last night, he reminded me that despite the criticisms, he always stands up when it matters and that’s important,” Bastien said.

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