Lexius Saint Martin, the Waterville resident arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Jan. 2 and placed in a New Hampshire detention center, was deported Tuesday morning to Haiti.

Saint Martin, 35, and his wife, Mindy, 28, who is due to have a baby in May, have two boys, Donovan, 5, and Marcus, 2.

The family’s lawyer, Evan Fisher, of Augusta, said Wednesday that he did not receive confirmation of Saint Martin’s deportation until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“It’s devastating to the family and we’re obviously very upset by it,” Fisher said. “We’re focusing our efforts on anything that can bring the family back together.”

The Saint Martins’ situation is representative of deportations that have taken place nationwide since President Donald Trump initiated a concerted effort to crack down on immigrants, both illegal and legal. With Congress unable to arrive at a compromise over immigration, thousands of young men and women who arrived in the United States as children, the dreamers of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, will be subject to deportation March 5. Others with temporary protected status, or TPS, have been stripped of it after decades and fear returning to countries they fled because of war or environmental disaster.

A rally drew a crowd of 100 to City Hall in Waterville on Feb. 3, where speakers demanded justice for Saint Martin, who arrived legally as a child, got into trouble, but then turned his life around after serving his sentence to become a contributing member of society with a wife, children and a small business. Some asked when Saint Martin had become so dangerous that federal agents felt it necessary to take him into custody without warning, while others questioned what justified taking him from his family and his community. Still others implored people to contact their representatives in government to act on Saint Martin’s behalf.

On Tuesday, Waterville resident Hilary Koch stood before the City Council to say that two weeks ago she approached the city to ask if it would make a public statement of support for the Saint Martin family, but her request was ignored.

“I asked for a conversation and a statement showing the Saint Martins that you stood by them,” she said. “I had hoped the mayor could reach out to Governor LePage.”

Koch said the system is broken.

“We have become so incredibly concerned with doing what we think appears to be right that we have forgotten to do what actually is right. It’s not us versus them. This is not about me versus you. This is about all of us together finding a way to lift each other up.”

She pushed for the city to make a statement to support bringing Lexius home.

“My grandpa reminded me recently of a saying: ‘I wish somebody would do something. Oh wait, I’m somebody.’ I am somebody, and I am here to remind you that you are somebodies who were elected to do something. So please do something and help bring Mr. Saint Martin home. It’s now harder, but it still isn’t too late.”

Mindy Saint Martin said Wednesday morning that she spoke briefly with her husband, who had borrowed a phone in Haiti. He had arrived there between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesday, but the phone reception was not good. ICE officials had taken his driver’s license away, so he was without identification, she said.

John Reynolds talks to a Waterville crowd about federal agents’ seizure of his brother-in-law, Lexius Saint Martin, a family man and small-business owner who deserves a second chance.

“He has very distant relatives there. He didn’t know them personally, but he was able to stay with one of them last night,” she said. “His sister (who lives in the U.S.) helped and he’s going to stay in a hotel room the next couple of days, and I’m not sure what will happen. We have no idea what he can do. He has no papers, so he can’t find work anywhere.”

Her husband is not doing well, she said, and she and her family are having a difficult time.

“I’m just so full of anger — so many different emotions running through you. And I am petrified of his not being here for the birth of our daughter.”

Lexius Saint Martin was the sole provider for Mindy and their children, and now they have no income. Mindy said she probably will live with her parents and rent out her and Lexius’ house.

“Lex said do anything you need to do to keep the boys fed and me fed. I’m going to rent the house out because I don’t want to lose the house.”

She said she has enough money left to support her family for one more month.

She said she was shocked he was arrested Jan. 2 because he was doing everything ICE officials asked him to do.

“He wasn’t hiding. He was doing everything he was supposed to be doing, so for that to happen out of nowhere, it’s devastating; and people make comments about how he is illegal and I should go back to Haiti. They don’t know what it’s like in Haiti. Haiti is a horrible place to be. In the city last week people were burning stores down in Port-au-Prince. I’m already heartbroken as it is, and for people to say that, they need to do research and see how these countries are before they send people back there.”

Saint Martin came to the U.S. with his father and siblings in 1994 when he was 11. Classified as a refugee, he was in the U.S. legally and had green card status. He attended school in Florida and later came to Maine to work in the blueberry fields.

In 2007, three years before he met Mindy and when he was working at Walmart in Augusta, he was arrested for trafficking in cocaine. He was convicted in 2008, served seven months in jail and vowed never to get involved in anything illegal again. However, he had violated his immigration status. An immigration judge ordered his removal.

He was taken to Texas, where he awaited deportation, but he was released when Haiti suffered an earthquake and could not take people back. The deportation order, however, was not rescinded.

In 2010 Lexius met Mindy through friends. They fell in love, though she said she would not date him unless he got a job. Two days later, he landed a job cleaning for a business at a hospital in Boothbay.

Lexius later started his own successful business, LMD Cleaning Services, which contracted with Lincoln Health. He cleaned three facilities and a nursing home. In spring and summer, he cleaned windows at places such as the Lovejoy Health Center in Albion and for families including the Alfonds in Belgrade.

He was arrested by ICE agents Jan. 2 after he left his Oakland Street home in Waterville to head to work. His wife had no idea he was gone until she got a phone call a while later, informing her that he was taken to jail.

On Tuesday, Fisher appeared in U.S. District Court, via telephone, to present a petition for a writ of habeas corpus that says Saint Martin should be released because his rights were being violated, but Saint Martin’s deportation makes the court case moot, Fisher said.

“He’s no longer in federal custody, so that leaves a big problem for the habeas petition.”

Fisher was to appear a second time in court Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m still going to call in and update the judge and let him know that deportation happened,” he said.

Fisher said he has not yet spoken to Lexius Saint Martin but wants to do so as soon as possible.

Fisher said he got inconsistent information recently about Saint Martin’s status. An ICE agent told him last week, for instance, that Saint Martin was deported Feb. 12, which was not correct.

“We don’t have a lot of facts. ICE wasn’t giving us a lot of information. We certainly thought there was a possibility that ICE actually lacked the ability to deport him anytime soon, so in a way we were surprised that he was deported.”

Fisher said a legislative effort such as a private bill or a broader immigration reform bill could bring Saint Martin back to Waterville.

“Either one of them could remove his barrier to re-entry to the U.S.,” he said.

Fisher has been in contact with U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s offices about the deportation, he said.

“Their offices have been cooperative and interested in helping him,” he said.

While Mindy Saint Martin said she is not one to ask for help financially, Fisher said a PayPal account was set up for her as people ask how they can help.

Linda Woods, a retired Lawrence High School English teacher who had Mindy as a student, has been trying to help the family.

Woods said Wednesday that she cannot comprehend how the U.S. could let Lexius Saint Martin be taken from his family while he was working hard at a job, supporting his wife and children and being a productive member of society. Now, she said, the family has no way to support itself other than to ask for help from the state.

“The thought of this family being torn apart just breaks my heart,” Woods said. “It makes no sense to me. It’s too bad the immigration officials don’t review each case on an individual basis. Had they bothered to get to know Lexi as an individual, they would see that he has become a solid member of society who has worked hard to develop a business that will support himself and his family.”

An email sent Wednesday to John Mohan, public affairs officer for the New England Region of ICE, did not immediately return an email with comment Tuesday afternoon.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17