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29672: Hermantin(News)U.S. still trying to deport ex-citizen (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Sat, Dec. 16, 2006


U.S. still trying to deport ex-citizen
After France and his native Haiti refused to accept convict Lionel Jean-Baptiste, U.S. authorities now want to deport him to the Dominican Republic.


U.S. officials have notified Lionel Jean-Baptiste, the first naturalized American in 44 years ordered deported after losing citizenship over a drug conviction, that they will try to remove him to the Dominican Republic after Haiti and France refused to take him.

Jean-Baptiste told The Miami Herald that he received the notification Tuesday, the deadline for an administrative review of his custody case.

Under federal regulations, immigration officers review a foreign detainee's custody 90 days after his deportation order becomes final -- if removal has not been carried out. The U.S. Supreme Court has said foreign nationals who cannot be deported can be held in detention up to six months -- unless officials classify them as a danger to the community or ''special circumstance'' cases.

Jean-Baptiste, in a telephone call to The Miami Herald from the Krome detention center, said his deportation officer told him that if he cannot be deported, he may have to be released under conditions of supervision. It was the most definite statement to date from the government indicating that Jean-Baptiste could be released.

Barbara Gonzalez, a Miami spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said: ``The case is still under review. Our obligation as a law enforcement agency is to carry out orders of removal as issued by immigration judges.''

Immigration judge Kenneth S. Hurewitz on Sept. 12 ordered Jean Baptiste, 59, deported to his native Haiti -- but advised him that he may get to stay in the United States if the Haitian government refused to take him back.

Haiti declined to take back Jean-Baptiste because he renounced his Haitian citizenship when he swore allegiance to the United States in 1996.

The French consulate in Miami also declined to take Jean-Baptiste because officials could not find any proof he was a citizen of France.

Officials at the Miami consulate of the Dominican Republic said they were not aware of the case but that they would look into it.

It's the first time since 1962 that a denaturalized citizen has been ordered deported after a drug conviction. In that case, an Italian-American was stripped of citizenship and then ordered deported -- the case cited as precedent in Jean-Baptiste's immigration court proceedings.

Jean-Baptiste arrived as a refugee in 1980. In April 1996, Jean-Baptiste became a U.S. citizen. But six months later he was indicted on drug-trafficking charges and federal agents arrested him.

Jean-Baptiste pleaded not guilty, but a federal jury convicted him in January 1997.

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