YORK, Pa. — The late winter chill in York was a stark contrast for Jean and Marie Laveldure, natives of Haiti.
“It is very hot, [a] good temperature. You don’t need any sweater or jacket,” Marie said.
On Friday the couple was at York’s New American Welcome Center, where the center partnered with the York Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) to help them fill out forms for temporary protection status.
Temporary protection status (TPS) is given to immigrants from certain countries to stay legally in the U.S. It does not lead to citizenship, but the pair said they felt more secure knowing they had an official status in the U.S.
“It lacks that permanency but it does provide incredible benefits for the here and now,” said Andrew Baranoski, PIRC executive director.
PIRC provided several lawyers to assist about 50 families fill out TPS forms over the two-day event.
Babysitters provided childcare during the event, while translators were also on hand to help the Haitian Creole-speaking immigrants understand the paperwork in English.
New American Welcome Center coordinator Deborah Detzel said York has seen a recent surge of Haitians coming to York for work opportunities.
The New American Welcome Center, which is run under YMCA of the Roses, also helps new immigrants with other resources. They hand out supplies like strollers and referrals to other community programs.
Organizers of the event said easing new immigrants’ transition to life in the U.S. helps both them and the communities they’re joining.
“It’s just a really important part of this work, that not only do we take care of people who come to the United States and to our community, and that we can help and be involved and be an informed community,” said Detzel.