By Tequila Minsky
Three years ago Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) picked up immigration rights activist Jean Montrevil near his home in Brooklyn during his lunch hour, spirited him to Krome Detention Facility in Florida and deported him to Haiti.
It had been years since a decades-old conviction when Montrevil served time.
A maturing and reformed Montrevil started a family, a business, and became a contributing member of society. His life’s trajectory resonated with the Judson Memorial Church community and they became supportive and mutually involved with each other.
“He is the face of our values—‘to welcome the stranger’,” says Keen Berger, part of Judson’s Immigration Task Force.
In 2007, Montreveil co-founded with Ravi Ragbir the multi-faith immigrant-led New Sanctuary Coalition that creates support systems for and empowers those navigating the immigration system. Meanwhile Jean and Ravi were continuously surrveiled by Federal immigration agencies.
Haiti’s 2010 earthquake sidelined an imminent deportation for Jean.
Montreveil maintained involvement with the Judson community and furthered his activist activities. It is believed that ICE particularly targeted Jean and Ravi for their outspoken immigration activism.
Meanwhile, the Judson community has never faltered in its support.
Marking the sad date of his deportation, TeamJean proclaimed “January is for Jean at Judson”, recommitting to “Bring Jean Home.”
To the 50 activists outside of Judson last weekend, Jean’s 17-year-old son, Jahsiah spoke of how he was a child when his father left. Now, no more, having had to confront issues he would never have imagined, particularly missing the continuous presence of his father.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, a stanch supporter of the Bring Jean Home campaign, informed those gathered how he sponsored with Assemblymember Michaelle Solages the Protect Our Courts Act , which passed in July, that curtails ICE’s policy of arresting New Yorkers at or outside courthouses without a warrant.
Members of the NYU Law Immigrant Rights Clinic representing Jean and fighting to bring him home also spoke.
Diana Rosen reminded those present that a year ago they filed a lawsuit against ICE in federal court, asking the court to order Jean’s return to the U.S. because ICE illegally deported him in retaliation for his activism on behalf of immigrants and in violation of due process. “Despite repeated efforts by ICE to dismiss the case or put it on hold, the Court has required the government to turn over records about Jean and we continue to push the case forward.”
Lauren Wilfong described the latest action, “With the support of the Judson community, in November we also filed a new request for a pardon of Jean’s decades-old criminal convictions in Virginia. A pardon from the Virginia Governor would allow Jean to ask to reopen his immigration case, paving a path for him to come home.” (More info: bringjeanhome.org/January ).
To express support for his pardon, supporters should call and email Virginia’s Governor Northam (804-786-2211, opt. #2; firstname.lastname@example.org )
From Judson, the ralliers marched twice around Washington Square Park in a silent Jericho Walk, carrying their statements on banners.