Montrevil and Family, Post-Deportation

Jean Montrevil’s 14-year-old son Jahsiah. (Photo by Erin Sheridan via The Indypendent)

The traumatic toll that deportation can take not only on the adults who are deported but also on those left behind is explored by Lydia McMullen-Laird in The Indypendent, in a story about Haitian activist Jean Montrevil, who was deported on Jan. 16, and his children and ex-wife, Jani Cauthen, living in NYC.

Montrevil, 49, first received a deportation order in 1994 while he was serving time for cocaine possession. He was put in immigration detention in 2005. In 2007, he and Ravi Ragbir co-founded the New Sanctuary Coalition, based in New York. Montrevil was nearly deported again in 2010, while Ragbir only recently received a stay of deportation.

Montrevil’s 14-year-old son Jahsiah is a freshman at Brooklyn Tech.

Jahsiah says life is different without his dad, who he describes as “fun.” “He picks me up after school on Fridays and after that we usually just go hang out, maybe at Chuck E. Cheese or Dave & Buster’s.”

Jahsiah is building a website about Montrevil’s case to raise awareness about the unfair treatment of immigrants. He thinks it’s especially unfair that his father is being deported for a crime he committed decades ago. “He did a crime when he was 19 years old. He should be able to go on and live his life as a regular human being.”

For his part, Montrevil is pained by the separation.

Montrevil is heartbroken that he can’t be there for his children anymore, he said. “I grew up without a father, I never want that to happen to my kids. This is a tough situation for all of us, but what can I do?”

Montrevil is having a difficult time adjusting in Haiti, a country he left more than 30 years ago.

“I left when I was 17 years old, I used to walk and was never afraid. Now it’s different.”

Montrevil is living in a different neighborhood now than where he grew up and is trying desperately to pick up the local Creole dialect so people won’t discover he’s a U.S. deportee. He says people stigmatize deportees for “blowing an opportunity” at a better life. “I don’t want to give people the idea that I’m from the States, that I’m a deportee, so I have to be careful.”

The only consistency Montrevil has in his new life in Haiti is his cup of coffee in the morning and a daily phone call with Jahsiah and Jamya his 10-year-old daughter. “I live my life for my kids. I love my kids and I never wanted to be separated from them. This is why I put up a big fight for many years,” Montrevil said.

How is Montrevil’s ex-wife coping? And what was “like Christmas” for Montrevil? Go to The Indypendent to find out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *