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8140: In rare move, Board releases immigrant (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Board reverses decision to deport man to Haiti
By Jody A. Benjamin
Posted May 25 2001
In a rare move, the Board of Immigration Appeals has sided with a Miami
immigrant with a criminal record who was about to be deported and has
ordered his release from jail.
In a May 21 ruling, the board overturned the decision of Miami Immigration
Judge Neale Foster that Peterson Polidor be deported to Haiti, a spokesman
for the board confirmed.
Polidor, 22, had been convicted of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and
sentenced to three years of probation in 1998. In February 2000, immigration
authorities picked him up at his probation office, saying his crime
warranted removal from the country.
His father said he was ordered released from the Citrus County Detention
Center, about 80 miles north of St. Petersburg.
"He called us to say he just found out this morning," said Walter Polidor,
who learned of the decision from his lawyer, Boris Wijkstrom, of the Florida
Immigrant Advocacy Center. "He is so glad, he's too glad. Everybody here is
full of joy."
As Polidor's release appeared imminent, Sen. Bob Graham introduced
legislation to change the law that led to his detention and to the
deportation of thousands of immigrants under a 1996 federal immigration
The proposal would eliminate the retroactive nature of the controversial
1996 law. It would bar the deportation of immigrants if their crimes were
not considered deportable offenses at the time they were committed. It would
also restore discretion to immigration judges -- a power that Congress had
stripped from the courts.
Graham said the immigration law was too harsh and split families.
"Punishment should be meted out based on the crime committed, not where the
perpetrator was born," the Florida Democrat said in a written statement.
Polidor came to the United States legally from Haiti at age 11.
Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski testified at Polidor's removal hearing,
along with his employer and several family members. All of them argued that
even though he was convicted of a crime, he should be allowed to remain in
the United States.
Last August Foster, the Miami immigration judge, ordered Polidor deported,
though he has no family left in Haiti and would have been barred from
re-entering the United States for 10 years. Polidor appealed.
Because the Immigration and Naturalization Service did not have enough bed
space at the Krome Service Processing Center, it transferred Polidor to the
Citrus County Jail, about 350 miles away from his home.
At one point, Polidor asked his attorney to drop his appeal simply because
he could not stand the conditions in jail.
"He had to spend 16 months in awful conditions to get this result," said
Jody A. Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com or
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