The Chance to Come Home Campaign Has Welcomed Home the Following Unjustly Deported People
Thanks to advocacy and organizing by family members, community organizers, and legal advocates, the campaign has celebrated the return of six people featured in our 2021 white paper, where NIJC first called on the U.S. government to create a process for people to apply for a chance to come home.
Howard Bailey spent more than a decade separated from his family in Virginia after ICE deported him to Jamaica for a decades-old marijuana conviction. While in exile, Howard became an advocate for himself and other deported veterans. In August 2021, Howard finally returned home. Though his return has not always been easy, Howard is working hard to rebuild the life taken from him. He shared his story in the short film A Chance to Come Home, produced by Alex Rivera in partnership with NIJC.
Jesus Alberto “Beto” Gutierrez
Beto Gutierrez was living in Chicago when a 2019 traffic stop led to his arrest and detention, despite being eligible for DACA renewal. In detention, he spoke out about inhumane conditions and helped expose ICE’s harmful use of solitary confinement. ICE released him after months of activism and a public campaign through Organized Communities Against Deportation, but his freedom was short-lived. ICE deported him to Mexico after his DACA renewal application was denied. In 2021, after a year in Mexico, DHS granted Beto humanitarian parole and he returned to his community. Beto currently awaits reneweal of his recent grant of humanitarian parole.
Claudio Rojas lived in the United States for 19 years with his wife and two DACA-recipient children when ICE deported him to Argentina in retaliation for his activism. Claudio appeared in the award-winning film, The Infiltrators, which focused on a for-profit detention center in Florida. A month after the film’s premiere, ICE detained Claudio during a routine check-in appointment and subsequently deported him. Three years later, after sustained advocacy, DHS granted humanitarian parole to Claudio so that he could return to the United States and reunite with his family in Florida.
Issa Sao was living in Ohio with his wife and two kids when ICE deported him in 2018 to Mauritania — a country known to enslave Black Mauritanians. He was one of many Black men deported under the Trump administration as part of a concerted effort to deport African immigrants. After more than four years apart, Issa returned to his family in Cincinnati through an immigrant visa, sponsored by his wife. He has two jobs and works relentlessly to help his family recover from the financial strain his detention and deportation caused.
In retaliation for his activism, ICE deported Jean Montrevil, a Haitian American immigrant rights advocate and community leader, to Haiti in 2018. ICE deported Jean based on the pretext of a criminal conviction that was three decades old. Jean reunited with his loved ones in 2021 after he was granted temporary protection from deportation. Fifteen months later, a New York immigration judge finally ruled that Jean would no longer face deportation.
ICE tore Kenault Lawrence from his U.S. citizen wife and newborn son when it deported him to Jamaica in 2013 on the basis of marijuana convictions from years earlier. He spent more than a year in detention and met his newborn son through a glass partition. ICE deported Kenault just three months before the U.S. Supreme Court held that his convictions should not make him automatically deportable. After nine years of advocacy, ICE finally returned Kenault to the United States. He is still waiting to learn whether his immigration case will be dismissed. President Biden’s recent marijuana pardon does not benefit Kenault in his immigration case.
Advocacy and legal services in these cases were provided by:
University of Maryland Carey School of Law Immigration Clinic | New York University Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic | Neighborhood Defender Service (New York) | Neighborhood Defender Service (New York) | Immigrant Defense Project | Ohio Immigrant Alliance | Just Counsel LLC | Cleary Gottlieb | Beyond Legal Aid