A Waterville man arrested by Immigration officials in January and held in a New Hampshire jail for nearly two months has been deported to Haiti. He leaves behind a pregnant wife, two young sons and an attorney who fears for his client's safety.
A native of Haiti, Lexius Saint Martin came to the United States as a refugee at the age of 11. His attorney, Evan Fisher, says Saint Martin arrived in Haiti on Tuesday and that he has no friends or family there. His father and brother have become U.S. citizens. His brother now works as a police officer in Florida. But Saint Martin never established citizenship, and a 2008 conviction for trafficking cocaine in Maine made him a target for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even though he completed a seven month jail sentence a decade ago.
“He has no ID,” says Fisher. “He has no Haitian ID or passport and his Maine drivers' license was taken from him at the airport by a Customs official. So, he has no identification, nowhere to live. He's homeless in Haiti and that's something he's described as worse than being in jail.”
Fisher had filed a lawsuit alleging that Saint Martin's due process rights were violated when he was held indefinitely in detention. He's also asked for help from members of Maine's congressional delegation who could draft a private bill that could help bring Saint Martin back to Maine.
Fisher says Saint Martin's wife, Mindy, who is expecting their third child in May, is devastated that her husband has been deported. He owned a cleaning business and was the family's only source of income.
“My sister and Lexius bought a house this past year, so finances, there's none, really,” says John Reynolds, Mindy's brother who attended a Portland rally in support of immigration reform Wednesday.
“She's lucky enough that we can take them in for the meantime while she either rents her house out or sells it, because she's gonna be with her husband, regardless,” says Reynolds. “Can't let this break them up.”
Reynolds was among dozens of people who turned out for a Waterville rally in support of Lexius Saint Martin earlier this month. Family members describe him as a friendly, hard-working man who's turned his life around. But being thrust into Haiti, a country that is struggling with natural disasters, civil unrest and systemic poverty is not going to be easy for him, says Fisher.
“I can only imagine that Lexius, being displaced there with no ID and no support system, is gonna have a very hard time so I'm really concerned about him and his safety and just how he's going to get by,” says Fisher.
Fisher says he hasn't been able to speak with Saint Martin himself. His client doesn't have a phone. In fact, the only way the family was able to confirm that he'd been deported was when Lexius called them, using a phone he borrowed from someone in Haiti.