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Letter from State Senator Tom Duane: Rallying for the Release of Haitian Immigration Advocate Jean Montrevil

Over the first several weeks of January, I attended several rallies and made a number of calls seeking the release of Haitian national Jean Montrevil, an immigration advocate, husband, father and valued member of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village.  He was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on December 30, 2009 and held in detention in York, PA until January 23, when he was released.   Prior to the tragic earthquake on January 12 he was facing imminent deportation to Haiti.

Jean entered this country legally with a green card in 1986, but was convicted of selling cocaine in 1990 at the age of 21.  He served eleven years in prison and since his release has been a extraordinarily valuable member of his community: he has run a small business, raised his family, helped his wife get through college, served his church and advocated for immigrants’ rights.  Yet, because of his conviction, he has been subject to intensive ICE supervision with the threat of deportation.

Jean’s recent arrest after years without incident is emblematic of what is wrong with our nation’s immigration laws.  ICE may deport noncitizens convicted of felonies who have long since paid their debts to society and become positive forces their communities – in the process tearing  families like Jean’s apart.

I am particularly appreciative of efforts by our U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velásquez, as well as other members of the New York Congressional delegation who  worked to gain Jean’s release.  And I applaud Judson Memorial Church, the New Sanctuary Coalition and so many others who organized, demonstrated, prayed and engaged in civil disobedience to free Jean and change our country’s immigration policy.

Although Jean is now back home with his family, he is still under strict supervision and at threat of future detention.  We must continue to fight on Jean’s behalf and for all families at risk of being broken by our deeply flawed immigration system.


REV. MICHAEL CAINE, Senior Pastor, Philadelphia Old First Reformed United Church of Christ (former NYC Regional Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ): “Ours is a faith based on forgiveness and second chances…No one denies that Jean made some mistakes as a young man. But he served the sentence that the U.S. legal system deigned his due, and now has served as a national leader for immigration reform and human rights.”

REV. BOB COLEMAN, Chief Program Minister, The Riverside Church, NYC: “Jean represents all that is right about our nation and wrong with the deportation system. He made a mistake. He paid his time. He represents a restored life. Who benefits by stripping him of his legal status?”

SCOTT M. STRINGER, Manhattan Borough President: “Jean Montrevil is a valued legal permanent resident of New York City who is deeply connected to family, friends and fellow community members and who is supported by leaders and advocates acquainted with him from around the city. Jean’s deportation process has followed an inhumane and unreasonably aggressive path. I am urging the Department of Homeland Security to consent to a joint motion to reopen Jean’s deportation proceedings and, to immediately release him from detention since current catastrophic conditions prevent deportation to his native Haiti. His removal would simply devastate his family and violate cornerstone principles of humanitarian relief and family unity in US immigration policy.”

TOM DUANE, State Senator: “Jean Montrevil has been here since 1986. He’s here. His family is here. He’s a valued member of our community. He’s a wonderful man who’s active on so many fronts – immigration, with his church – that after all that time and giving so much to our country, that ICE would detain him, and threaten to deport him, shows you how still out-of-line our priorities are.”

MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO, NYC Councilwoman: “This case in particular is one that really exemplifies how dysfunctional our system is. We need to make an example by releasing him, by getting him free, by ensuring that we change the way that the system works…I thank all of those that have been participating in civil disobedience.”

JERROLD NADLER, U.S. Congressional Representative (NY 8th District): “More than a year has elapsed since I first urged the granting of deferred action to Mr. Montrevil…At this time, I hope that the request will be given favorable consideration.”

JOSÉ SERRANO, U.S. Congressional Representative (NY 16th District): “Jean Montrevil’s case is precisely why we need to see the provisions of the Child Citizen Protection Act passed into law – ideally as part of comprehensive immigration reform. We cannot continue to allow inflexible deportation guidelines to separate families with U.S. citizen children…I commend all those fighting on Jean’s behalf, and look forward to a successful resolution of this sad case.”

NYDIA VELÁZQUEZ, U.S. Congressional Representative (NY 12th District): “My office believes that his deportation will be a disproportionate punishment to him, his family, and his community.”


“We, the undersigned organizations, support the campaign to free human rights advocate and nationally renowned immigrant rights leader Jean Montrevil.  We call upon Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately release Mr. Montrevil from detention, grant him deferral of removal and return him to his family in Brooklyn.  Mr. Montrevil entered the U.S. from Haiti in 1986 as a legal permanent resident.  ICE is trying to de-legalize him for a 1989 drug conviction, for which he served 11 years.  He has kept an exemplary record ever since.  Mr. Montrevil is married to a U.S. citizen and has four U.S. citizen children who need him here to raise them and provide for their well being.  In Mr. Montrevil’s case we recognize the struggles of millions of families who are ensnared in the devastating realities of a broken immigration system.  We affirm the need for greater discretion in the immigration system that will keep families together. We will continue to fight for such reforms in the name of Mr. Montrevil and the millions like him across the nation until all families win justice.”

Adoptive Families of Older Children
Advocates for Human Rights
African Services Committee
All of Us or None
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC-National)
Amigos Multicultural Services Center, Eugene, Orgeon
Amnesty Atlanta
Arlington Street Church (Boston, MA)
Birthright Unplugged
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Brandworkers, Queens, NY
Breakthrough: Bring Human Rights Home
Casa Esperanza
Casa Freehold
Center for Constitutional Rights
Centro de Educación de Trabajadores
Centro de Recursos para Migrantes
Chinese Progressive Association in SF
Churches United to Save and Heal
Civil Assotiation “Educacion para la paz, A.C.”
Coloradans For Immigrant Rights
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Silver Spring, MD
Comite de Vivienda San Pedro, (St. Peter’s Housing Committee), SF, CA
Common Law
Comunidad Liberación/Liberation Community, Aurora, CO
Deported Diaspora
Detention Watch Network
Dismantling Racism Works, Durham, North Carolina
Dominican Sisters of Houston
Families for Freedom
Fast For Families
Filipino Advocates for Justice
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Fordham Bedford Children’s Services, Bronx
Georgia Detention Watch
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
Glenmary Commission on Justice
Global Justice and Peace Ministry, The Riverside Church
Granny Peace Brigade
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
Green Party-Manhattan Local (NYC)
Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees
Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee
House of David Community Building Project
Hudson Valley Community Coalition
Immigrant Defense Project
Immigrant Justice Advocacy Movement – Kansas City(both Kansas and Missouri)
Immigrant Rights Clinic, New York University School of Law
Interfaith Worker Justice Center in Chicago
Jesuit Refugee Service, USA
Justice & Witness Ministry of the New York Conference United Church of Christ
Justice Strategies
Justice Studies, San Jose State University
Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC), Chicago, IL
Korean Resource Center (KRC), Los Angeles, CA
La Union
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Long Island Jobs with Justice
LULAC-Syracuse, NY Chapter
Make the Road NY
Masjid Aqsa
MataHari: Eye of the Day in Massachusetts
Migration Policy & Resource Center
MinKwon Center For Community Action
Mt Sinai Congregational UCC
Muslim Consultative Network
Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
National Institute for Latino Policy
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National Lawyers Guild
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)
New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)
New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
New York Immigration Coalition
New York University School of Law Immigrants Rights Clinic
No More Deaths, Phoenix
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
One Spirit Learning Alliance/One Spirit Interfaith Seminary
Oregon New Sanctuary Movement
Pax Christi Metro NY
PDHRE , People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning
Peoples Legal Defense Committee of California INC
Petra Foundation
Picture the Homeless
Post-Deportation Human Rights Project, CHRIJ, Boston College
Project Voice of New England, American Friends Service Committee
Reedly Social Services
Refugee Women’s Network, Inc
Religious of the Assumption
Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY)
Saint Mary Catholic Church, Loisaida, NY
SEIU 1199
Sisters of Charity of New York
Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team
Social Justice Guild of the First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta
Society of Jesus, New York Province
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
St. Anthony’s Social Justice Group, St. Anthouny of Padua in New Jersey
Student/Farmworker Alliance
Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Houston
The Action For Justice Committee of the Community Church of New York, Unitarian Universalist Association
The Fellowship of Reconciliation, Nyack, NY
The House of Peace, Inc
The National New Sanctuary Movement
The Praxis Project
Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Church
United Church of Christ NY Metropolitan Association, Committee on the Church and the Metropolitan Community
Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
Village Independent Democrats
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center
Witness for Peace Northwest
Women In Black, Vashon, WA
World Can’t Wait
World Organization for Human Rights, Washington DC
Youth Ministries For Peace and Justice

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