Haitian Immigrant Activist Detained in Queens

Jean Montrevil (Photo via The Indypendent)

The detention of Trinidad native Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the interfaith immigration advocacy group New Sanctuary Coalition, made headlines on Thursday as police arrested more than a dozen protesters, among them Council members Jumaane Williams of Canarsie and Ydanis Rodriguez of Washington Heights. On Jan. 3, ICE detained a co-founder of the organization, Jean Montrevil, during his lunch break near his home in Far Rockaway, Queens. Two days later, some 60 protesters gathered outside the Varick Street Processing Center calling for his release. He was held at Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, New Jersey, before being sent to Krome Detention Center in Miami.

Caribbean Life’s Tequila Minsky describes the events leading up to the detainment of the father of four U.S.-born children.

For years, Montrevil has lived under the threat of deportation under a 1996 federal law which gives ICE the discretion to deport legal immigrants with a past felony conviction no matter how far in their past. When he was in his early 20s, Montrevil served five years for selling cocaine.

Eight years ago, he was in Pennsylvania scheduled for imminent deportation when the earthquake hit Haiti and deportations were temporarily halted. Since then he regularly checks in with ICE — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, works and is a family man.

Jean Montrevil found fellowship, moral support and became active with the Judson Memorial Church community. He co-founded The New Sanctuary Coalition. But, the stress of multiple deportation orders has also wrought an emotional toll.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman co-sponsored bills to limit New York’s cooperation with ICE and create a “sanctuary state” to protect immigrants from random and unjustified deportation. (Photo by Tequila Minsky via Caribbean Life)

In his coverage of the rally, The Indypendent’s John Tarleton noted that Montrevil’s next ICE check-in would have been on Jan. 16. He added:

Montrevil’s ex-wife, Jani Cauthen, and his youngest daughter Jamya, spoke at the sidewalk rally as did a trio of local elected officials: U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Lower Manhattan) and State Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-West Village).

Micah Bucey, a minister at Judson Memorial Church, of which Montrevil and his family had been longtime congregants, took down the email addresses of protesters:

…and said they, in turn, would be provided the phone numbers and email addresses of the two ICE officers responsible for Montrevil’s case. Direct appeals, Bucey explained, can make a difference.

“I’ve seen the impact and how it gets people released,” he said.

Read more on Montrevil at Caribbean Life and The Indypendent.

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