“It doesn’t sit well with me to know that I don’t belong here and the way that I got here.”
Paul was born to Haitian parents in the French territory of St. Martin, and moved to New York when he was five years old. He grew up as a true New Yorker with strong community bonds. Because of punitive immigration laws, an immigration judge ordered Paul to be deported on the basis of a drug-related conviction in 2003. But because Paul could not be returned to Haiti at that time, he was allowed to remain in the United States under an order of supervision that required him to check in with ICE on a regular basis. Paul complied with this order for almost 15 years until ICE unexpectedly detained him at a check-in during the last days of the Trump administration. His community fought to keep him home, but in the middle of the night in February 2021, ICE put him on a plane to Haiti, a country where he had never set foot.
Life in New York
Paul has described his Spring Valley, New York, neighborhood as a “…great, vibrant, and diverse place with many cultural experiences.” He and his family are closely connected to their Baptist church and neighbors. Paul graduated from Ramapo High School and attended State University of New York at Rockland. As an adult, he was known for hosting barbecues for his family and friends. His favorite memories include nights playing games like dominoes or cornhole, and hosting outdoor movie nights, sitting in lawn chairs and smelling food slow cooking over the fire. He volunteered to clean his church on Saturdays and chaperoned church camp in the summers. For over a decade, he worked as a financial consultant helping individuals and families plan for their futures.
In the last days of the Trump administration, ICE boarded Paul onto a deportation flight to Haiti, a country he had never visited. After tireless efforts by advocates and then-U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones, he won a last-minute reprieve from a deportation flight scheduled for the day before President Biden’s inauguration. Days later, President Biden issued a 100-day hold on deportations, leading Paul’s family and representatives to believe he would be able to stay in the country to fight his case. However, a federal judge blocked the order and on February 2, 2021, in the middle of the night, ICE deported Paul to Haiti.
Life in Haiti
When he arrived in Haiti, Paul could not fluently speak Haitian Creole, and had no Haitian passport or travel documents. He had no close family or friends in the country, and was forced to find a way to survive in a country struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, and historic levels of violence. Paul and his family continue to fear for his safety. He has witnessed devastating violence and moves frequently to remain in hiding. Paul draws his strength from his faith and the moral support he receives from his family and community back home in New York.
“I am a son, brother, cousin, nephew, uncle, godfather, and friend. I'm a good and responsible son to my parents, a good brother to my siblings, supportive and understanding friend. I am loved, supported, and encouraged by my family and community. I contribute a lot to who I am through the example of my parents and Baptist church upbringing.
“It doesn’t sit well with me to know that I don’t belong here and the way that I got here and how it was done. … What makes things all the worse is when your friends that you grew up with are getting married, and then you can’t attend or somebody that you grew up with in the neighborhood, they pass away and you can’t pay your respects.”
Paul is asking DHS to exercise its discretion to grant him humanitarian parole so that he can enter the United States and reunite with his family and loved ones. Further, he asks DHS to stipulate to reopening and dismissing his Notice to Appear, in light of recent federal court decisions finding that convictions under certain New York drug statutes should no longer be found to be controlled substance offenses or drug trafficking aggravated felonies.
Paul is represented by Sarah Decker and Sarah Gillman at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Nicole Phillips from Haitian Bridge Alliance.
- Deported to Haiti in 2022 after 35 years in the U.S., despite not being recognized as a citizen of any country and having never once visited Haiti
- Targeted for deportation in the final days of the Trump administration and detained at an ICE check-in without prior notice
- Lived in Spring Valley, New York
- Separated from parents, sister and brother, friends, and church community
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