The Baymont by Wyndham Motel in Kingston has become a temporary home to about 300 people from all over the Americas.

Ninety-six immigrant families live at the motel off Route 3, where their housing is overseen by the Plymouth Area Coalition for the Homeless. About 75 percent of the families are newcomers to Massachusetts, said Suzanne Giovanetti, the coalition’s chief executive officer. Most crossed the border from Mexico and have requested asylum. The rest are local families without permanent homes.

Most of the asylum seekers are from Haiti, said Giovanetti, who also sits on the board of the Plymouth Independent. Others are from South America, Many of the Haitians found their way to the United States by a circuitous route that took them thousands of miles through South America and into Mexico before entering the US.  

When immigrants ask for asylum after they cross the border from Mexico, they are given an I-94 form and a court date – sometimes years away – to determine whether they qualify. But they are not immediately eligible to work, which creates a conundrum.

For Haitians, however, there is another way to stay in the United States. It’s one of the few countries whose citizens have been afforded Temporary Protected Status by the US government. That status is granted to people who are unable to return safely to their country, and it allows immigrants to legally work here.

But many asylum seekers in the Plymouth area are still waiting for their paperwork to confirm their Temporary Protected Status, Giovanetti said, though some people living at the Baymont are employed, she said.

Suzanne Giovanetti, director of the Plymouth Area Coalition for the Homeless, said the adult immigrants living at Baymont are “working very hard to get themselves out of shelter and on the path to building a new life for their family.” Credit: (Photo by Wes Ennis)

“They’re just working very hard to get themselves out of shelter and on the path to building a new life for their family,” she said.

Dunkin’, restaurant food distribution company Sysco, Market Basket, and McDonald’s are among the employers hiring asylum seekers, she said.

Three asylum seekers, all from Haiti and all parents in their thirties, recently spoke with the Independent through an interpreter. (Most adults at the hotel are in their twenties and thirties, Giovanetti said.)

Philistin Narcisse, 35, is from Gonaives. He moved to Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital, to finish school and look for a job. But after being wounded by gunfire, he, his wife, and their son fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic. From there, the family traveled to Brazil, where they lived in Joinville, in the state of Santa Catarina.

Narcisse worked, but his wife did not, and it was hard to pay bills on one income, he said. So the family decided to travel thousands of miles more to Mexico, where they stayed for nine months before crossing the border into the United States.

Once in the US, he and his wife went to a friend’s in New Jersey, but someone there stabbed his wife, who fled to Canada, where she remains, Narcisse said. He ended up homeless with his son, sleeping on the street.  

A cousin told him Massachusetts was welcoming homeless people and paid a taxi driver $400 to take Narcisse to Boston Medical Center, where he had heard he could apply for housing.  

Narcisse’s son, 14, is in the ninth grade at Silver Lake Regional High School in Kingston, and already is becoming proficient in English.  

More than 50 children are in Kingston public schools, with another group in Head Start and area preschools, Giovanetti said. Most are either in preschool or elementary school, she said.  

“For parents, there’s the challenge of communicating with the school,” Giovanetti said, referring to the language barrier.

Narcisse said he and his son already have Temporary Protected Status. He has a part-time job but is not working under his real name. He declined to name his employer.

Living at the Baymont is a huge improvement over being homeless, Narcisse said, but life still poses challenges. In the hotel, he can’t cook for his son, who he says is losing weight. There’s a lack of privacy, too, Narcisse said.  

Michoue Cherilus, 30, is from Saint-Marc, Haiti. Her journey to the US also went through South America. Her husband first moved to Chile and in 2019, she joined him. They lived in Santiago, the capital, where their eldest child was born. Eventually, they traveled to Mexico, and on May 11, 2021, they crossed into the US.  

They went to Florida, where her husband’s family lived. But the family wanted them to pay $800 a month for a room, which they could not afford. Determined to find a place to live, she called friends from Chile who were living in Massachusetts. They told her about Massachusetts’s right-to-shelter law.  

That’s how the family ended up in the state on Jan. 31, 2022. They have Temporary Protected Status now, she said.  

She works Walmart in Plymouth stocking shelves.  

Since their arrival in Massachusetts, the family has grown. In addition to a four-year-old daughter, Cherilus and her husband now have an eight-month-old son.

Speaking in Haitian Creole, Cherilus said she would like to take more English classes.  

“The vast majority of them have a language barrier,” Giovanetti noted.  

Giovanetti said she has met with local colleges to see if they can offer English instruction. There are conversational classes at the hotel twice a week, but they only accommodate a dozen people each. A grammar class for up to 20 people is about to be added, and students will be able to use an app when they are not in class. The Plymouth Library has a waiting list for its ownEnglish classes.  

Like Narcisse, Rosemond Micius, 34, is from Gonaives. He said he left the country in 2015 with his wife and child because there was no security there. They, too, went to Santa Catarina in Brazil. The family’s second child was born there. Narcisse had a job, but could not earn enough to support his extended family in Haiti.

Then his wife died, leaving him with the two children. So in 2020, Micius decided to go to the US via Mexico. It became a two-year journey.  

He, too, has been granted Temporary Protected Status, he said.

He has been in the area since Oct. 20, 2022, and works part-time at a Dunkin’ shop. His daughter is now 10, and his son is six.

It hasn’t been easy for any of them, but Micius said his daughter is having an especially difficult time at Kingston Elementary School. She keeps crying, he said, asking for her mother.  

Fred Thys can be reached at

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