A Waterville man arrested by federal agents last month has been deported to Haiti, a federal employee said.
Federal agents flew Lexius Saint Martin to Haiti at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning from a transitional holding center in Alexandria, Louisiana, said detainee services employee Sherry Welch.
“He was deported with ICE Air to Haiti,” she said, referring to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who flew the plane.
Welch did not know where on the island he was taken, or the details of his deportation.
The Waterville community rallied around the 35-year-old husband and father of two after federal immigration agents arrested him outside his home on Jan. 2.
His arrest was authorized by a standing deportation order issued in 2010 after Saint Martin was convicted on a felony drug charge, which disqualified his refugee status. But it took his family by surprise, as Saint Martin was complying with conditions that allowed him to live and work in Maine, according to his attorney, Evan Fisher.
The Tuesday deportation ended weeks of waiting and anticipation for his family, as federal agents moved Saint Martin from holding facility to holding facility without notifying them or his legal representation, Fisher said.
Fisher filed a lawsuit claiming that Saint Martin’s due process rights were violated because ICE was detaining him for an indefinite and unknown amount of time. But yesterday’s deportation likely makes his argument “moot” because Saint Martin is no longer in the custody of the federal government, Fisher said.
Fisher said he called the Alexandria detention center yesterday morning around 9:45 a.m. — hours after his plane had taken off — and it confirmed Lexius was still there. But late last night, Lexius told his wife he was in Haiti, Fisher said.
Now, the only way to reunite Saint Martin with his family in Maine is through an act of Congress, Fisher said. The lawyer has asked members of Maine’s congressional delegation to propose a bill that would create an exception in federal immigration law allowing Saint Martin to return as a lawful resident.
There is precedent for such bills, although Fisher said the politics around federal immigration law makes it a longshot.
Saint Martin garnered widespread support from the public because he was well known and well liked in his Waterville community.
He came to the United States in 1994 at age 11, fleeing political turbulence in Haiti with his family. Most of them now live in Florida, but Lexius came to Maine in the early 2000s to pick blueberries, his wife Mindy previously said. He hardly knows anyone in the county he was sent back to yesterday, she said.
Mindy declined to comment on Wednesday.
In 2007, Saint Martin was charged with felony cocaine trafficking, documents show. He was convicted in 2008 and served a 7-month sentence in Kennebec County the following year.
After his release, the government tried to deport him but stopped the process when a catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, halting deportations there. Instead, the government allowed Saint Martin to live and work in Maine under conditions designed to monitor and restrict his residence in northern New England.
He has compiled by those conditions, and never appealed the deportation order, Fisher said.
He met Mindy in 2011, and they married in 2014, Mindy said. He supported his family by working long hours cleaning a Boothbay hospital, while Mindy cared for their 5- and 2-year-old sons. The couple is expecting their first daughter in May, she said.
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