The Sylvain Family


View Roland’s infographic

Roland came to the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident in 1985 when he was just 7 years old. His parents are both naturalized citizens and emigrated from Haiti to build a better life for their family. Until they recently retired, Roland’s mother was a nurse and his father was a cab driver. After saving up from their hard work, Roland’s parents purchased a home in Piscataway, NJ, where Roland grew up with his brother Carl and sister Cristina. Roland currently lives in Elmont, NY. His siblings live in nearby New Jersey.  Roland also has a large tight-knit extended family (his mother has 9 siblings), most of whom live on the East Coast. Roland has always been one of the leaders in keeping the extended family together. He is the first to jump in and take care of things when there is a death in the family. He also organizes the family vacations and reunions. The family was excited to celebrate when Roland’s 93-year old grandfather was sworn in as a U.S. citizen earlier this year.

Roland has spent the last 15 years as a lab technician at two chemical companies. He worked for five years at a precious metals chemical plant. Roland was identified as a strong leader and promoted to supervisor, eventually managing about 25 people. For the last 10 years, Roland has worked at Hagelin Flavor Technologies, where he started out in production and eventually moved into the lab.

Roland has been married to his wife, who is a U.S. citizen, for four years in August. They met through family and were close friends for almost two years before they decided to get married. They have two U.S. citizen children, 3 year-old Joaland and 1 year-old Bryce. Roland also has two U.S. children through a previous relationship: 13-year-old Caitlyn and 4-year-old Aidin. Roland has a close supportive relationship with all his children. He has provided child support for Caitlyn and Aidin and sees them on weekends and throughout the summer. Roland’s wife is currently studying business administration. Roland is the sole financial support for the family.

In late 2001, Roland was driving with his cousin and uncles to visit his parents who had retired to Florida. While driving through Virginia, Roland was pulled over for speeding. His license had been suspended since he owed money on a previous ticket. In Virginia, when a police officer issues a ticket, you have to sign it. Roland panicked and signed his cousin’s name who had been sitting next to him in the passenger seat. Roland then told the police officer that he had panicked and signed his cousin’s name instead of his own.  Roland was arrested and charged with forging public records. He received a 1 and a half year suspended sentence for each ticket he signed. He served no time in jail. This was the only criminal conviction Roland has ever had.

In the following years, Roland built his career and family. In addition to his primary job, he and his wife started a small business taking kids on ski trips and other outdoor adventures. They donate most of the proceeds to a school in Haiti. The family goes to church every week and cares about contributing to their community in the U.S. and giving back to help less fortunate people in Haiti.elmothumbnail

In 2011, Roland and his then-pregnant wife and 20 family members decided to take a week-long Fourth of July cruise. When they returned to Florida, Roland, along with others on the ship who weren’t U.S. citizens, was taken to an immigration office. An official took his prints and greencard. He was then sent a date to appear in immigration court in the mail. Roland is now in removal proceedings, where the government is charging him with an “aggravated felony” based on the offense related to the ticket from ten years earlier. The judge is unable to hear any of the circumstances surrounding this case or his life because his conviction is classified as an “aggravated felony”.  He now faces imminent deportation to Haiti, a country he left when he was just 7 years-old.

Because of all the stress related to his deportation, Roland has gone from a happy-go-lucky person to losing a lot of weight and needing medical care related to stress and depression. The ordeal has been a major financial and emotional strain on his entire family since they have all always heavily relied on his support.

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