- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Attorney General John Ashcroft is reviewing a request by U.S. immigration officials who want to overturn a ruling by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals that halted the ordered deportation of a Haitian nanny convicted of killing an 18-month-old baby.
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service sought the deportation order and later challenged the ruling by a three-member panel, asking in August that the full 18-member board review the deportation denial. The INS said the panel erred in determining that the baby's beating death was not a crime of violence.
No hearing date had yet been set when Mr. Ashcroft asked on Dec. 6 that the matter be sent to his office.
The nanny, identified in court records as Melanie Jeanbeaucejour, had twice been ordered out of the country by U.S. Immigration Judge Phillip J. Montante Jr. in Buffalo, N.Y., after serving two years of a six-year manslaughter sentence in the child's death.
The infant, who was not identified, died from what the Monroe County, N.Y., Medical Examiner's Office said in an autopsy report 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.
According to the court records, Judge Montante ruled the woman was an aggravated felon and, under federal law, was 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. The INS request came following her 1997 release from prison. 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. Jeanbeaucejour, said Judge Montante had "erroneously" decided that her manslaughter conviction was a crime of violence. The panel remanded the case back to the judge.
Judge Montante acknowledged the three-member panel's ruling from the bench, according to court records, but he disregarded it.
He again ordered the woman deported as an aggravated felon, citing federal statutes defining an aggravated felony as "a crime of violence."
Mrs. Jeanbeaucejour appealed the judge's second deportation order to the three-member panel based on the testimony of her husband and two children, who said her forced return to Haiti would cause them "extreme hardship."
The panel, according to the records, agreed.
The Justice Department yesterday declined comment on the matter, although the attorney general can overturn the ruling by the three-member panel.
Judge Montante also has declined comment on the case, as have officials at INS in Buffalo, who sought the appeal.
Mrs. Jeanbeaucejour, 44, was found guilty in a Buffalo courtroom on Sept. 12, 1995, of manslaughter in the second degree, according to New York State Department of Corrections records.
The records, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Times, show that she admitted to Monroe County investigators she struck 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," her statement said.
The three panel members who blocked the deportation order were Cecelia Espenoza, former professor at St. Mary's University Law School in San Antonio; Gustavo Villageliu, a former immigration judge in Miami; and Lory D. Rosenburg, former lecturer at Washington College of Law at American University. All were appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno.

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