- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

The U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals has yet to schedule a hearing on a 4-month-old request by U.S. immigration officials that a Haitian nanny convicted in the killing of an 18-month-old baby be deported.
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service asked in August that the full 18-member appeals board review a decision by a three-member panel, who ruled that the baby's fatal beating described by one law enforcement official as the "worst I have ever seen" was not a crime of violence.
The woman had twice been ordered out of the country by U.S. Immigration Judge Phillip J. Montante Jr., after serving two years of a six-year manslaughter sentence in the child's death. But the three-member panel overturned the orders, ruling that Melanie Jeanbeaucejour's deportation would cause her family "severe emotional hardship."
INS District Director Mary Francis Holmes in Buffalo, N.Y., said her office had no information on the status of the 4-month-old appeal.
"I have not heard a word on this," she said.
Rick Kenney, spokesman for the board, said the INS appeal had been received but not yet acted on. He said he did not know if or when the board might decide to review the matter.
According to court records, Judge Montante ruled that the woman was an aggravated felon and, under federal law, not eligible to remain in the United States.
His ruling came in response to an INS request that she be deported as an alien convicted of a violent crime following her 1997 prison release. The INS said at an August 1999 hearing that her deportation was dictated under the moral turpitude sections of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
The three-member appeals panel, acting on a petition by Mrs. Jeanbeceaujour, said Judge Montante had "erroneously" decided that her manslaughter conviction was a crime of violence.
Mrs. Jeanbeaucejour, 44, was found guilty in a Buffalo, N.Y., courtroom on Sept. 12, 1995, of manslaughter in the second degree, according to New York State Department of Corrections records.
According to court records, Mrs. Jeanbeaucejour admitted to Monroe County, N.Y., police investigators that she hit the infant on the head and shook him until he stopped breathing.
She told detectives, according to a statement made after her arrest, that the baby "continued crying, so I hit him two or three times with my fist on the top of his head. I did this to stop him from crying. It did not work."
She then said she started shaking the child. "I do not know how long I shook [the baby], but I did not stop until he was unconscious."
The Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office said in an autopsy report that the cause of death was blunt trauma to the baby's head, chest and abdomen. One law enforcement official familiar with the case said he had never seen such a brutal beating involving a baby.
Judge Montante acknowledged the three-member panel's ruling from the bench, according to the sealed records, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Times, but he disregarded it. After the case had been referred to him with instructions that he had erred in ruling the baby's death a crime of violence, he again ordered the woman deported as an aggravated felon.
The judge cited federal statutes defining an aggravated felony as "a crime of violence."
Mrs. Jeanbeceaujour appealed the judge's second deportation order to the three-judge panel based on the testimony of her husband and two children, who said her forced return to Haiti would cause them "extreme hardship."
The three panel members were Cecelia Espenoza, former professor at St. Mary's University Law School in San Antonio; Gustavo Villageliu, a Cuban refugee and former immigration judge in Miami; and Lory D. Rosenburg, former lecturer at Washington College of Law at American University. All three were appointed to the board by Attorney General Janet Reno.
None of the panel members who ruled in the case has been available for comment. The board is based in Falls Church.

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