US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning to deport a man to Haiti who is not a Haitian citizen and who has never been there, according to a report.
According to a birth certificate said to have been supplied to the outlet by his family, Mr Pierrilus was born in the French Caribbean territory of Saint Martin and reportedly came to the US with his parents when he was five. His sister and parents are US citizens.
Mr Pierrilus was seized on 11 January after he attended what he assumed was a routine visit at the immigration office on Federal Plaza in Manhattan, his sister, Neomie Pierrilus, told the newspaper.
“He went there for the appointment and while he was there, he was detained, and he was informed that they have documents stating that he’s a Haitian citizen,” Ms Pierrilus said.
The 40-year-old is said to have told his family he was being transferred to an ICE holding facility in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Ms Pierrilus explained that their parents were Haitian but had never applied for her brother’s Haitian citizenship and said that the family does not understand how documents were obtained to say that he had been.
“My brother has never even been to Haiti,” Ms Pierrilus said. “He has the bare minimum of the language, he doesn’t know the culture, he doesn’t know anyone there. So my brother cannot go there.”
Ms Pierrilus reportedly supplied copies of emails to the outlet last year from the then Haitian ambassador, Hervé Denis, confirming that her brother was not a Haitian citizen.
She said their parents were Haitian but never applied for Paul’s Haitian citizenship and his birth in Saint Martin did not confer to French citizenship either.
Human rights advocates have accused the Trump administration of pushing through a flurry of deportations of Black migrants in their final days in power.
“Sending him to Haiti, first of all, is not legal,” Guerline Jozef, head of the community group Haitian Bridge Alliance, told the newspaper.
“And with what’s going on in Haiti right now, there is no way they should be deporting people there period, especially him because he is not Haitian, has never been there and has no connections there. So they cannot just drop him at the airport.”
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.
Following his Inauguration on 20 January, President-elect Joe Biden has said he intends to roll back the Trump administration’s aggressive push for deportations and detentions of undocumented immigrants.
The president-elect plans to immediately unveil a sweeping immigration bill administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship to those living in the US without legal status.
During his election run, Mr Biden called Mr Trump’s actions on immigration an “unrelenting assault” on American values and said he would “undo the damage” while continuing to maintain border enforcement.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press