Immigrants Facing Deportation Stand in Solidarity with Haitian Community
Supporters Demand Immediate Release of Immigrant Rights Leader
New York, NY – At a rally attended by over a hundred people outside the Varick Street Immigration Detention Center, immigrant families alongside political, religious, and labor leaders expressed solidarity with the people of Haiti while also calling for the release of Jean Montrevil, who is now in his 15th day in immigration detention. Since Jean was detained on December 30th 2009, 19 clergy and community members have been arrested in acts of civil disobedience, more than a dozen political leaders and over 90 organizations have called for his release, and thousands of people have made calls and written letters on his behalf.
Today other immigrant families representing New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) and American Friend Services Committee (AFSC), as well as Service Employees International Union 1199 (SEIU), all added their voices to the call for Jean’s release as well as for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to respond to the Haitian situation humanely and to stop enforcing punitive immigration laws that tear families apart.
Alix Nguefack, Detention Project Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee, stated, “Haitians need to be granted Temporary Protected Status, which will allow them to work and support their families back home, while not living in fear of deportation. At the same time we hope that the administration recognizes the desperate need for permanent residence for all people who are living in the US without access to lawful immigration status.”
City Councilmember Robert Jackson, NY State Senator Thomas Duane, and a representative from the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer expressed their support for Jean and for changing the immigration system. Duane added, “after all that time and giving so much to our country, that ICE would detain him [Montrevil] and threaten to deport him, shows you how out-of-line our priorities still are.”
Many other elected officials are supporting Montrevil and immigration reform that keeps families together, including U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velasquez, Jose Serrano, Charles Rangel, and Yvette Clarke, City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Melissa Mark-Viverito, and NY State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.
Montrevil’s lawyers have still not heard anything from ICE regarding whether he will be released.
Still detained in Pennsylvania’s York County Prison, Montrevil’s thoughts were with his loved ones in Haiti: “It’s so hard being here and not being outside and able to help my people in Haiti. ICE said yesterday it will temporarily stop deporting people to Haiti, so the agency should release all Haitian detainees immediately.”
Montrevil entered the U.S. from Haiti in 1986 as a legal permanent resident. Homeland Security is trying to deport him to Haiti for a 1989 drug conviction, for which Montrevil already served 11 years. He has kept a clean record ever since.
Before being detained, Montrevil became a national spokesperson for the Child Citizen Protection Act (H.R. 182), a House proposal that would bring due process into the deportation system by allowing immigration judges to consider the best interests of American children before deporting a parent.
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New York Times, here
Village Voice, here
The Indypendent, here
El Diario, here
Latin American News Dispatch, here
GFBC Blog, here
Busted Halo, here
Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, here
Standing on the Side of Love, here
Caribbean Life, here
Haiti Analysis, here