A French Saint Martin Born New Yorker Has Been Deported To A Country He’s Never Known, Or Been To… Haiti.
NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 5, 2021: Paul Pierrilus was born on the Caribbean island of French Saint Martin to Haitian parents. Due to rules of the French overseas Caribbean territory, he was never declared a citizen of the island, as Saint Martin does not have birthright citizenship.
At age 5, his parents brought him to the Us where he has lived since. That is – until Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.
On Tuesday, Pierrilus, a 40-year-old financial consultant who was not born in Haiti, has never been there, and has no citizen status there, was put on a deportation flight to Haiti by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
His deportation came even though President Joe Biden has signed an executive order icing deportation for 100 days. It also came almost two weeks after Pierrilus was spared a last-minute deportation because of the intervention of new New York Congressman, Mondaire Jones.
Pierrilus, a Spring Valley, NY native, had garnered the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to drug offenses. According to the Washington Post, Pierrilus was convicted of selling drugs in 2003, and after serving his sentence, an immigration judge ordered him to be deported because ICE said he’d overstayed his visitor visa after entering the U.S. in 1985.
ICE said Pierrilus “is an illegally present citizen of Haiti,” and claimed to have travel documents for him but declined to provide them. Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., said that “his government has no record that any consulate or the embassy had ever provided travel documents to ICE for Pierrilus,” the Post reports.
ICE also attempted to deport his brother, Daniel Pierrilus, in 2006 but Haitian officials sent him back when he arrived at Port au-Prince.
On Tuesday, there was no saving Pierrilus who was detained when he went to an immigration check-in in Manhattan on Jan. 11th fafter being under an order of supervision for nearly two decades that allowed him to live and work in the U.S. under the condition that he routinely check-in with federal immigration authorities.
Despite the Jan. 19, 2021 temporary reprieve, he was driven to an ICE airfield in Alexandria, Louisiana, early on Tuesday, and put on a plane to Port-au-Prince, a place he has never been and where he does not hold any citizenship.
He was distraught and in shock, said his lawyer, Nicole Phillips, who spoke with him hours later.
“They knew he was stateless. They knew he didn’t have a Haitian passport,” she said. “It’s our understanding that he did not have travel documents to return to Haiti and yet they deported him there anyway.”
Pierrilus doesn’t speak Haitian-Creole fluently, advocates said, and he has no family in Haiti, where on Tuesday, he was staying with “a friend of a friend” after being transferred to the offices of the country’s judicial police, where he was taken to a tiny room, photographed and had his fingerprints taken, his lawyer said.
Phillips said he tried to explain his situation to four ICE agents, and at one point attempted to get back on the stairs of the plane.
“Four ICE agents wrestled with him to force him to get off the airplane to stay in the country,” she said. “He kept pleading over and over again, ‘Show me the travel document.’ And nobody did.”
How? A judge who granting the Jan. 19th order did not block guidelines laid down by the acting Trump-era Secretary of Homeland Security, David Pekoske, which came into effect on Monday, Feb. 1st. It stipulated that deportations should be limited to suspected terrorists, convicted felons deemed a “threat to public safety” and migrants who arrived after 1 November last year.
The suddenness of his deportation took many by surprise, including Haitian Ambassador Edmond.
“There was nothing we could do to stop it,” Congressman Jones, the Democratic representative for New York’s 17th district said. “Unfortunately, Paul’s story is not uncommon. Black immigrants have been disproportionately targeted and deported by our racist, inhumane immigration system, particularly in recent weeks.”
So far, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, and which has just been taken over by a Caribbean-born immigrant, has not commented on the case. Pierrilus’ deportation is not alone since the Biden administration took over. On Wednesday, U.S. authorities returned dozens of Haitians to the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez from El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, a move that appeared to contradict a policy agreement in place with Mexico brokered under the previous U.S. administration.