Support for Stanley, a Black Immigrant Activist

21-year-old Black political activist, Stanley, needs our help. Any day now he will be removed from ICE detention, and deported to Haiti, where he faces imminent danger.

Stanley’s situation presents a unique opportunity to invest in and help protect the future of a young, Black activist at a pivotal point in our history.

Stanley’s story is long; his journey up to this point has been shaped by our broken immigration system, predatory racism, human rights violations and the for-profit immigration detention system.

Stanley was kidnapped and tortured by a group connected to corrupt politicians. They targeted him because of his community involvement and advocacy for equal access to education across Haiti. In the U.S., Stanley fell victim to both poor lawyering and an immigration detention system designed to quickly deport people, costing him his case for asylum. His former captors are still looking for him in Haiti and have indicated that they will hurt or kill him if they find him.

Unfortunately, there is no further legal recourse for Stanley. Instead, we are hoping to raise funds to ensure that he can safely resettle elsewhere. Once deported, Stanley hopes to immediately escape Haiti and migrate to Chile, where his father lives. The cost of a flight alone is around $2,000. The average cost of living in Chile is approx. $750/month. An early investment will help set him up for a successful new life in Chile. Please consider donating if you have the means.

Stanley’s Story (summarized):

o   Stanley was brutally beaten, starved and tortured in unspeakable ways because of his involvement in an activist group. Through the group, called Galaxy, Stanley organized and participated in after-school programs, educational activities and community betterment projects. He spent his weekends cleaning neighborhood streets and leading dance groups.

o   Galaxy is opposed by an armed group of bandits backed by various corrupt politicians.

o   In 2017, the group came to his high school, shot two young girls that participated in Galaxy’s dance group, and kidnapped any other Galaxy members they could find. Stanley was detained for three weeks, surviving only on water and an occasional slice of bread. He was held in a cold, dark room, where he slept on the floor. Stanley was terrorized and harassed by guards daily. He was beaten to the brink of death before he managed to escape out of the trunk of a police car.

o  Stanley was targeted because of his involvement in this group, and therefore meets the criteria for political asylum in the U.S. 

o   When Stanley arrived in the U.S., seeking safety, he was met with further injustice. Stanley was denied his Fifth Amendment due process rights to state his claims with adequate interpretation. His credible fear interview ("CFI"), which is the first step in the asylum application process, was grossly unjust. The Trump administration has enacted various policies to ensure that people who have a credible fear of persecution are denied asylum at this very early stage. Although Stanley presented a claim that would have been granted under previous administrations, he was denied and therefore unable to even present his claim for asylum.

o   Stanley’s captors have been looking for him for the past two years. They have a strong political network that alerts them when activists like Stanley return to Haiti. Stanley was told that they would kill him if he escaped. Understandably, he fears death upon his return.

o   The only option left is for Stanley to relocate to another country as soon as he is deported. But, he has no means to get there, and no means to survive once there. He spent every penny trying to make it to the United States.

o   If possible, Stanley would like to go to Chile, where his father lives and can help him establish a new life. He spent time in Chile on his way to the U.S., and though he experienced racism and employment discrimination, he was safe.  

If you’re not yet convinced or appreciate detail, the full story is below:

o  At age 16, Stanley joined an advocacy group in Haiti dedicated to advancing educational opportunities for local youth. Through the group, called Galaxy, Stanley organized and participated in after-school programs, educational activities and community betterment projects. He spent his weekends cleaning neighborhood streets, and leading dance groups.

o   A group of bandits, with well-known connections to corrupt Haitian politicians, routinely stalked and harassed Galaxy members, disrupting their meetings to beat them mercilessly with rocks and sticks, and following them to school where they would continue to beat them. The group made it known that they opposed any grassroots efforts to support the community.

o   When Stanley was 19, this same group of bandits stormed the grounds of his high school, unleashing dozens of unleashed bullets and hoping to kill members of Galaxy. That day, two young girls that danced in a group organized by Galaxy were murdered. Many others, including Stanley, were kidnapped.

o   For three weeks, Stanley was detained by this group. He was starved and senselessly tortured, surviving on  a cup of water only once a day. To evade death, Stanley was forced to agree to join his captors. Once taken outside, Stanley escaped from the back of a car trunk and left the country shortly thereafter.

o   The injustice Stanley has faced does not stop in Haiti. It does not stop with the notoriously treacherous journey through Latin America to the United States, or with the hunger strikes he joined or the chemical sprays that overtook his lungs while in ICE detention.

o   Stanley suffered an equally tragic journey through our justice system. When Stanley arrived in the United States and presented himself to authorities as an applicant for asylum, he was terrified, anxious, sleep-deprived, and traumatized. He had tried to report the torture he endured to police in Haiti, but they were unwilling to investigate it. Unsurprisingly, he had little trust in United States authorities either.

o   Asking for asylum at the border triggers a credible fear interview, during which an ICE interviewer asks the applicant a series of questions to determine whether they would be able to make a case for asylum in court. There is a low bar for passing the CFI: an applicant need only show that there is a very small chance that they were persecuted on the basis of a protected ground, such as race or political opinion.

o   Although there is no question that Stanley was persecuted on account of his political opinion—he was tortured for his involvement in Galaxy—the interviewer assigned him a negative finding of credible fear. Upon reviewing the interview transcript, it is abundantly clear that if Stanley had presented his claim under a previous presidential administration, his application would have been granted. To add to the injury, his interpreter, who translated between English and Creole, failed to accurately interpret on either side. The interviewer failed to elicit critical information which would have led to a positive finding. Moreover, Stanley was so scared and triggered by the experience that he forgot to mention key components of his persecution, like the fact that he was detained for three weeks and tortured.

o   Stanley spent all of his savings to hire a lawyer and appeal the negative CFI finding. Unfortunately, like many immigrants and people of color, he did not receive adequate legal representation. Because of the recent Supreme Court decision, Dept. Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam, asylum applicants are only given one chance to appeal a negative CFI finding. Stanley’s lawyer inadequately used his one chance and lost his case.

o   More egregiously, the interviewer utilized a legal standard which was inapplicable in Stanley’s case because the Transit Ban has been repealed. Had the interviewer used the more lenient, applicable legal standard to assess Stanley’s claims, he would have arrived at a positive finding.

o   Stanley is the victim of a justice system that disfavors Black and brown people and is designed to expedite the deportation of those fleeing persecution without adequate due process protections. He has a textbook case of asylum based on political opinion, and yet he was robbed of his Fifth Amendment due process rights to adequately make his case. Under the Geneva Convention of 1951, Stanley has the right to seek asylum, and under the Fifth Amendment, Stanley is guaranteed an opportunity to testify with adequate interpretation. His rights have been violated at the expense of his life through no faults of his own, and he has no recourse.

o   The least we can do to support Stanley and make amends for the callous, unjust treatment he received in the United States is to help him establish a new life in Chile by making these funds available.


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Organizer and beneficiary

Rachel Cohen-Sidley 
San Francisco, CA
Aidin Castillo 
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