2018-03-01 / Editorial

Deportation: actions have consequences

The Right Side
by Mike Coleman

It’s been said that ours is a nation of immigrants. None of our ancestors inhabited the Americas when homo sapiens evolved. Even those who we now speak of as Native Americans crossed onto the North American continent from Asia about 15,000 years ago. Legal immigrants to our country have added much to our growth as a nation and have added a great deal to our society. Many have added to our economy through hard work and the diverse products and services they brought from their countries of origin. They have assimilated into our culture while keeping many of their traditions alive. Many immigrants take pride in their quest for the American Dream.

Unlike many countries where there are religious or ethnic tests for naturalization, any immigrant who has been granted permanent residency may stay and become a citizen of our country if they follow a few simple rules. We require that they be of good moral character and be on good behavior while here. Even that test is lenient. Most misdemeanors and even some felonies are not permanent grounds to deny an immigrant access to naturalization. Among other things they must refrain from trafficking drugs or people. They must not commit an aggravated felony. They may not be users of illicit drugs or habitual substance abusers. They must keep their immigration status current. For permanent residents that means renewing their Green Card every 10 years. If an immigrant violates any of these conditions they may be deported.

Some countries exclude anyone with any criminal convictions, even misdemeanors, from entry. For example, a conviction for operating under the influence will bar a person from even entering Canada. Our immigration policies and laws are far from draconian.

Lexius Saint Martin, a Haitian citizen, arrived in the United States in 1994 with his parents who were fleeing political unrest. He was 11 at the time. He and his family were granted refugee status. Refugees are held to the same standard of conduct as any other immigrant or alien who may have legally entered the country. In 2009 Mr. Saint Martin was convicted of Class B trafficking of cocaine, a felony. The maximum penalty for a crime of that class is 10 years in prison. He was sentenced to seven months. In 2010 a deportation order was entered against him. Remember, any drug trafficking conviction is a permanent bar to citizenship and is grounds for deportation. He was allowed to stay in the United States due to humanitarian concerns in the wake of a devastating earthquake that occurred in early 2010. At no time did he appeal his deportation order.

At the time of his arrest in January on the deportation order he was living in Waterville with his wife and two children. Let’s not forget that he was convicted of a serious crime for which he lost his refugee status before he and his wife started their family. That conviction made him ineligible to remain in this country. That’s the law. We gave him sanctuary in 1994 and he repaid our country’s kindness by committing a serious felony as an adult.

He was finally removed from the country last week. It’s been just over eight years since the earthquake struck Haiti. The Organization of American States reports that since 2006 the political climate in Haiti has shown signs of improvement and increased stability. By all reports he’s a hard worker. There’s no reason to believe he can’t survive in Haiti. If he wanted to stay here he should have respected our laws.

Orderly immigration is a wonderful thing enriching all of us Americans. We welcome people from all over the world. There’s no reason we should not expect them to obey our laws. If they don’t we should send them back.

Mike Coleman is a former town councilor in Old Orchard Beach and was a member of the Maine Republican State Committee from 2010 through 2017 where he served as budget chairman under three separate state chairmen. He represented Maine at the Republican National Convention as an alternate in 2012. He recently left the Republican Party and became an Independent.

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