Mabelle Casimir, sister of Jean Bertrang Casimir, addresses the group during the visit to the General Consulate of Haiti in New York on August 23, 2022. Photo by Leonardo March

NEW YORK —On a Sunday in July, Jean Bertrang called his sister Mabelle Casimir from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Texas for one of their two week chats. Bertrang had been transferred there after completing a 14-year prison sentence on a gun-related charge in November 2021.

But four days after the siblings’ conversation on July 17, Bertrang was in a prison cell at the National Penitentiary of Haiti in Port-au-Prince. It was his first time back in Haiti since he left the country 39 years ago, at age 4. 

“He is in jail when he didn't do anything,” said Mabelle Casimir during a protest in front of the General Consulate of Haiti in Manhattan. “Haiti is his country. He never committed a crime there.”

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Leonardo March is Brooklyn-based visual journalist from Puerto Rico and a Report for America corps member

Leonardo can be reached at Leonardo@haitiantimes.com