Lexius Saint Martin, the Waterville resident arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Jan. 2 and placed in a New Hampshire detention center was deported to Haiti Tuesday morning.
Saint Martin, 35, has a wife, Mindy, 28, who is due to have a baby in May. They have two young boys, Donovan, 5, and Marcus, 2.
The family’s lawyer, Evan Fisher, of Augusta, said Wednesday that he did not receive confirmation of Saint Martin’s deportation until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s devastating to the family and we’re obviously very upset by it,” Fisher said. “We’re focusing our efforts on anything that can bring the family back together.”
He said a legislative effort such as a private bill or a broader immigration reform bill could bring Saint Martin back to Waterville.
“Either one of them could remove his barrier to re-entry to the U.S.,” he said.
Fisher has been in contact with U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s offices about the deportation, he said.
“Their offices have been cooperative and interested in helping him,” he said.
Saint Martin came to the U.S. with his father and siblings in 1994 when he was 11. Classified as a refugee, he was in the U.S. legally and had green card status. He attended school in Florida and later came to Maine to work in the blueberry fields.
In 2007, three years before he met Mindy and when he was working at Wal-Mart in Augusta, he was arrested for trafficking in cocaine. He was convicted in 2008, served seven months in jail and vowed never to get involved in anything illegal again. But he had violated his immigration status. An immigration judge ordered his removal.
He was taken to Texas where he awaited deportation, but he was released when Haiti suffered an earthquake and could not take people back. The deportation order, however, was not rescinded.
In 2010 Lexius met Mindy through friends. They fell in love though she said she would not date him unless he got a job. Two days later, he landed a job cleaning for a business at a hospital in Boothbay.
Lexius later started his own successful business, LMD Cleaning Services, which contracted with Lincoln Health. He cleaned three facilities and a nursing home. In spring and summer, he cleaned windows at places such as the Lovejoy Health Center in Albion and for families including the Alfonds in Belgrade.
He was arrested by ICE agents Jan. 2 after he left his Oakland Street home in Waterville to head to work. His wife had no idea he was gone until she got a phone call a while later, informing her that he was taken to jail.
Meanwhile, Fisher said Tuesday was his (Fisher’s) first appearance in court, via a telephonic appearance, to present a petition for a writ of habeas corpus which says Saint Martin should be released because his rights were being violated. Saint Martin’s deportation moots the court case, he said.
“He’s no longer in federal custody, so that leaves a big problem for the habeas petition.”
Fisher said he has not yet spoken to Lexius Saint Martin but wants to do so as soon as possible.
Saint Martin does not know anyone in Haiti, he added.
“That’s one thing I know for sure.”
Fisher said he got inconsistent information recently about Saint Martin’s status. An ICE agent told him last week, for instance, that Saint Martin was deported Feb. 12, which was not correct.
“I was not going to be certain that he had been removed until we had confirmed it,” he said.
Mindy Saint Martin could not immediately be reached by phone Wednesday morning.
On Feb. 3, a crowd rallied outside City Hall in Waterville, calling on Maine’s top politicians to help Lexius Saint Martin.
Mindy Saint Martin holds her sons Marcus, left, and Donovan at their home in Waterville on Jan. 29, 2018. Mindy’s husband Lexius was deported to Haiti Tuesday morning. (David Leaming/Morning Sentinel)