Haitian brothers, 9 and 19, detained by customs despite visas
Brothers Christian Laporte, 19, and Vladimir Fardin, 9, are being held at the San Francisco International Airport.
Two young brothers from Haiti are being detained by customs at the San Francisco International Airport despite having visas to legally enter the country.
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According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the boys, Christian Laporte, 19, and Vladimir Fardin, 9, are in danger of being separated and deported. Their lawyer, Milli Atkinson, confirmed the siblings have been held since Sunday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Atkinson, who is also the legal director of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative, claims the agency took the boys’ visas and has not allowed them to contact the family.
“I haven’t been able to talk to them,” she said. “The only thing I’ve heard is that they let the younger child have an iPad to play. But, as you can imagine, he’s not able to speak to anyone, they’re not able to speak to family members directly. We can only imagine how he’s feeling right now.”
Their mother, Michaelle Pyroll informed the Chronicle that the older brother sent her a text message on Sunday evening letting her know they were detained but she has not heard from them since. She currently lives in Haiti and is not able to travel to the United States.
“I tried to text him back. I tried to call him. Nobody answered,” she said to the outlet. “I need to talk to my sons.”
The boys were due to be picked up by their godmother, Lindsey Etienne who shares their mother’s fear and uncertainty over the fate of the boys
According to CBS SF Bay Area, she said the brothers were ready for their trip and the family thought they had done what they were required to do to bring them to the U.S. legally.
“So far it’s been a nightmare,” she exclaimed to the news outlet. “They even they had their COVID test.“
Authorities claim they have no choice in detaining the boys, however, their lawyer told the San Francisco Chronicle that is inaccurate.
“They are able to do something called deferred inspection,” Atkinson told the Chronicle. “It’s something they do all the time to give them a few days to resolve some of the paperwork issues and let the children leave voluntarily with family members, with adults. But instead, they’re sending them to detention and putting them through this horrible traumatic process.”
Atkinson believes that the brothers were stopped by authorities because Laporte was missing an I-20 form, a document that confirmed his full-time student status. According to the attorney, the immigration agents seemed to be okay with allowing the brothers to return to Haiti, however, separation remains a strong possibility.
The Chronicle says Laporte may be deported and have to reapply for his student visa. He is currently enrolled at Diablo Valley College in Contra Costa County, California.
“Because of the holiday, he couldn’t get the one form from his college that he needed to be able to enter on a student visa,” Atkinson said. “Because he’s been stuck at the airport, he can’t access any of his information online. His family — because they can’t speak to him — can’t log in for him to prove that he’s a student and resolve all the issues that they’re claiming they have with the student visa.”
According to CBS, Atkinson revealed the younger brother is being moved to a shelter.
“The worst-case scenario is what is happening right now,” said Atkinson. “They are going to take the 9-year-old and hold him overnight and send him to a shelter in Texas.”
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