Rep. Mondaire Jones prevents Trump deportation of constituent to Haiti
Jones and his team worked together with attorneys to prevent Paul Pierrilus from being illegally deported to Haiti, where he has never been.
Former President Donald Trump moved to have Paul Pierrilus deported to Haiti, but the office of freshman Congressman Mondaire Jones prevented the action.
The Washington Post reported the Trump administration attempted to have Pierrilus sent to Haiti although he had never been to the country. In the final hours of the Trump presidency, chartered deportation flights continued, and dozens of immigrants were sent to countries they have never called home.
President Joe Biden has committed to delaying deportations for at least the first 100 days of his term.
“We have an immigration system where attorneys, advocacy organizations, and members of Congress must work on a case-by-case basis to work miracles in order to obtain justice for clients and constituents,” said Jones, according to the report. “That is no way to run an immigration system.”
Pierrilus is a financial consultant who emigrated to the United States at the age of 5. He was born in the French territory of St. Martin, which does not have policies for birthright citizenship. His parents are Haitian natives, however, he has never visited the nation. According to the Post, a tweet from the Haitian ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, confirmed the Rockland County, New York resident has no citizen status in Haiti.
Essentially, Pierrilus is stateless as he is not recognized as a citizen in St. Martin or the U.S. The Post says there are about 218,000 individuals currently in the United States with the same status.
He was set to be deported on Tuesday before Mondaire and team stepped in and were able to remove him from the plane just minutes before take-off.
“My mother was devastated and distraught,” his sister, Neomie Pierrilus, told the Post. She reached out to a cousin who went to high school with their new congressman, Rep. Jones to ask for help. “I am a fighter, and I wasn’t going to give up on my family.”
Read More: Haitian immigrant is the face of Lay’s chips
Katrina Bleckley, staff attorney with the Haitian Bridge Alliance made contact with Jones, who responded immediately.
“There was nothing to do except go to Congress,” said Bleckley, according to the report. “Minutes after the text, I got a callback. I’ve never had a turnaround like that.”
Bleckley said Pierrilus garnered the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to drug offenses. ICE also attempted to deport his brother, Daniel Pierrilus, in 2006. According to the family, Haitian officials sent him back when he arrived at Port au-Prince.
After Bleckley and Jones teamed up, staff worked through the night on Monday, demanding ICE provide a copy of valid Haitian travel documents on behalf of Pierrilus, which were never sent. By morning, Pierrlus was able to call and confirm he was not on the plane that departed for Haiti. According to the Post, he is still in Louisiana, where the flight was scheduled.
Via Twitter, Edmond confirmed that Pierrilus was removed from the flight through the efforts of not only U.S. authorities but with the assistance of the Haitian embassy.
“Yet they decided to try to send him to Haiti anyway without documents,” Edmond said, per the Post. “We found the lack of humanity in the process disturbing. We asked ourselves, how many others were deported this way?”
Jones, 33, is a congressman from New York’s 17th District. His resolution of the complex situation is just one example of the impact he’s already had. His election to Congress in November made history as he’s one of the first two openly gay, Black members of Congress elected last year.
As theGrio reported, Jones was named freshman representative to House leadership.
“Congressman-elect Mondaire Jones is a force for progress in New York and across America, whose brilliant legal mind, grassroots organizing experience, and spirit of advocacy and action have already enriched our House Democratic majority,” said Nancy Pelosi according to the report. “His leadership has been acknowledged by his election as freshman representative to leadership, where he will amplify, strengthen, and unify the voices of our diverse, dynamic Democratic caucus.”
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!