Victory! Jean is Released But…Our Work Just Got EVEN MORE Important!
Highlights from Sunday’s Celebration Service at Judson Memorial Church:
Rev. Donna Schaper recalled how Jean’s lawyer said on 12/30 (when he was detained) that it would be a miracle if we ever saw Jean again. So we started to try to make a miracle. And today, with Jean standing with his family at the front of the Church, we are witnessing that a miracle has occurred.
Angad Bhalla of the New Sanctuary Coalition noted, “Look at what we were willing to do for one person, one family. We recognize that Jean is one of MILLIONS and so we ask ourselves, “what can we now do for everyone?”
Jean shared his reflections, which are paraphrased below:
Every time I “check in” (at ICE) I know there’s a possibility that I’m going to get taken. And this has been going on for a while. On December 30th, I was really praying not to be taken that day. I had plans with my family, people coming to visit, and I was really hungry! I was looking forward to my lunch plans with Jane and Jane. But December 30th was the day.
I had been waiting there a long time so I knew something was happening. They asked me if I had anything pending in court, and I said I had the deferred action application. They said that it had not been entertained. That really hurt me because so much work went into that application. The ICE supervisor said it didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to get deferred action anyway. Then they took us into the elevator, and that’s when they handcuffed me and I told Jane to call my lawyer. I texted Jani and told her, “that’s it, it’s over. Today was the day.”
They sent me on to the Varick St. Detention Center for processing and I thought I’d be there for at least one day. But I was only there until about 7:30pm, when two ICE officers drove me to York, PA.
They told me I would be transferred to Texas on Monday (1/4) and I would be in Haiti on January 6th. I figured that was it. But you were all working so hard by then.
There were 63 people who were supposed to go Texas on Monday. 20 Mexicans, 40 Dominicans, and a few of us Haitians. We all had to be checked by a nurse. One of the Haitians was very, very sick. The nurse didn’t seem to notice. I kept telling her how sick he was. I knew that if he wasn’t treated now, he’d never be treated in Haiti, and he could die. She finally listened and took his temperature and realized how sick he was. It ends up that he had swine flu so they canceled the whole flight and all 63 of us stayed. We were quarantined for 7 days. I thought wow, this could be my chance. A chance I was given – that God had given – to find a way out.
Inside the detention center, I saw a lot of people who have been in this country for 30 or 40 years, people with families, like me. I saw hundreds of people coming in and out. More people are being separated from their families under the Obama administration than before. I didn’t believe it before, but it’s true.
Then on Tuesday, January 12th, I was watching the news on TV and saw what happened in Haiti. I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking how I could have been down there, I could have passed away. There are 111,000 people dead, 2 million people homeless, and they say there are still many people trapped under building debri. I kept thinking, I was supposed to be there on January 6th.
I’m so grateful that you’re my friends. My wife told me, “the people at the church really love you.” And I said, “Yeah, they do.” Thank you.