Acquitted Haitian in Liberty City Seven terror case deported to homeland
BY JAY WEAVER AND TRENTON DANIEL
Lyglenson Lemorin, acquitted of all charges in the Liberty City Seven terrorism trial three years ago, was deported to Haiti early Thursday along with 26 Haitian nationals with criminal records in the United States.
After a one-year moratorium on deportations to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they resumed them with the 27 removals on Thursday.
Lemorin's lawyer said his wife was contacted Wednesday night by her husband that he was going to be deported along with others being held at a federal immigration facility in Louisiana.
``This is a worst-case scenario coming true,'' said Atlanta immigration lawyer Charles Kuck, who has represented Lemorin almost since his acquittal on terrorism-conspiracy charges in the so-called Liberty Seven case in December 2007.
Haitian-born Lemorin, 35, who grew up in Miami, is a legal U.S. resident with no criminal history. He had been jailed by immigration authorities in Georgia, Florida and Louisiana -- despite his acquittal -- because he was still considered him a threat to national security. He fought his removal by the Department of Homeland Security, and his final appeal to a federal appellate court in Atlanta is still pending.
But in the meantime, ICE has the authority to deport him.
Although Lemorin has no conviction, he is being lumped together with deportable Haitian nationals with criminal records in the United States, his lawyer said. There are about 350 Haitians with convictions in ICE custody nationwide.
Deportations had been placed on hold after last January's earthquake left thousands dead and the capital, Port-au-Prince, in ruins.
``Today's removals are consistent with ICE's priority of removing aliens who pose a threat to public safety,'' said spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez. ``ICE will continue to return criminal aliens to Haiti on a periodic basis.''
The deportation of the Haitian criminals comes at a politically fragile time in Haiti. On Sunday, ex-dictator Jean-Claude ``Baby Doc'' Duvalier showed up in Port-au-Prince after spending 25 years in exile in France. The surprise visit raised fears that the already volatile country could plunge into chaos.
Meanwhile, Duvalier nemesis, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said he was ``ready'' to return to Haiti after almost seven years of exile in South Africa. Aristide, a former priest, was ousted amid an armed rebellion in 2004.
Aristide's statement, made public in a letter written from South Africa, was met with concern by the Obama administration, stressing the need for calm.
``We do not doubt President Aristide's desire to help the people of Haiti. But today Haiti needs to focus on its future, not its past,'' U.S. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said in a statement. ``This is an important period for Haiti. What it needs is calm, not divisive actions that distract from the task of forming a new government.''
Immigrant advocates and community activists blasted the Obama administration's decision as inhumane to deport Haitian criminals at this time, citing Duvalier's arrival, a deadly cholera outbreak and an electoral crisis.
``My concern is they could lose their lives,'' said Marleine Bastien, director of Haitian Women of Miami. ``For Lemorin to be deported is totally unacceptable. I think he should be brought back.''
That sentiment was echoed by others.
Published Thursday, January 20, 2011
|US deports 27 Haitians convicted of crimes, the first group since last year's quake|
|By The Associated Press|
Immigrant advocates say political unrest and an outbreak of cholera in Haiti make it inhumane to deport people there.
But the U.S. announced last month it would resume deporting those convicted of violent crimes who have served their time. Authorities generally cannot hold people indefinitely who have completed their sentences.
The U.S. say more than 61,000 Haitians have applied to temporarily stay and work here following the quake. The deadline for applying was Tuesday. Convicted criminals were not eligible.
Copyright © 2011 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.