DOVER, N.H. – The ACLU of New Hampshire filed an emergency federal lawsuit yesterday afternoon on behalf of a Haitian immigrant that was to be transferred today, August 13, to Louisiana to be deported, from Strafford County Department of Corrections. A federal judge granted the ACLU’s emergency motion to stop the transfer and deportation because the immigrant, Jeff Benson Beaubrun, has a still-pending court motion to reopen his immigration case, which he would not be able to partake in from Haiti.
Beaubrun fled Haiti with his wife after being viciously attacked by members of an opposing political party. After fleeing, the political party killed his young son, threatened his sister, and made death threats to Beaubrun. Despite this, he was ordered to be deported back to Haiti as soon as August 20th, 2019.
“Anyone who presents themselves for asylum has the right by law to have their claims heard and evaluated,” said SangYeob Kim, immigration staff attorney at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “In this case, the government is attempting to deport Mr. Beaubrun without an evaluation of his situation, in which he would very likely be tortured and killed if returned to his home country. The government should never deport a person prior to giving them that opportunity because the immigration system is not actively protecting their constitutional rights.”
Beaubrun initially applied for asylum in the United States in 2016, but fled to Canada in 2017 after reading news stories that this administration would no longer grant protection for Haitians. He was denied Canadian asylum due to the Safe Third Country Agreement, which states that if an immigrant passes through the U.S. first, they cannot apply for asylum in Canada, and vice versa. Upon arriving back to the U.S. in 2019, he was detained because he had missed his 2017 U.S. asylum hearings and, in his absence, was ordered to be deported. The U.S. government never gave him a fear interview, the first step in the asylum process, when he came back from Canada. The case is still pending.