A Haitian man who had lived in Waterville until his deportation in early 2018 has been pardoned by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.
That pardon comes almost a year after former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, denied a request from the family of Lexius Saint Martin, 36, to grant him a pardon for a 2008 drug conviction that led to his deportation in the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 2018.
Martin was married to Mindy Saint Martin, with whom he had three children. A representative for the family could not be immediately reached for comment.
Lindsay Crete, the governor’s press secretary, said Wednesday that Martin’s case was brought to Mills’ attention after she took office and she directed the Executive Clemency Board to review the case. After that review, Mills determined that Martin deserved a pardon and granted it on Aug. 29, Crete said.
U.S. immigration officials on Jan. 2, 2018, arrested Martin, who came to the U.S. from Haiti in 1994 as a refugee, outside his home for violating his immigration status. That violation was related to a 2008 felony drug conviction after police in 2007 arrested him after finding cocaine and $4,800 in his car.
Martin pleaded guilty to a Class B count of drug trafficking and the state dismissed a more serious Class A charge of trafficking 112 grams or more of powder cocaine or 32 grams or more of base cocaine.
He served seven months in prison and lost his refugee status.
But his deportation was halted after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, and he continued to live in Maine under conditions that he restrict his travel to the Northeast and regularly check in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
His attorney, Evan Fisher, told the BDN in 2018 that Martin abided by those conditions, though the deportation order remained in effect.
Martin’s arrest came after the Trump administration in November 2017 said it would end a temporary residency permit program that has allowed almost 60,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since the 2010 earthquake. The Department of Homeland Security said in March 2019 that it would comply with a federal court order by automatically extending to January 2020 the temporary protected status of more than 250,000 immigrants from four nations — El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua — who faced possible deportation.
In denying a pardon for Martin in 2018, LePage said at the time that Martin “completely ignored our laws until they caught up with him.” Before he left office, LePage pardoned Jeffrey Pierce, a former Republican lawmaker from Dresden, for a felony drug trafficking conviction. Pierce was convicted in 1983 after selling cocaine and marijuana to an undercover police officer.