Honoring Father’s Day with Verdynee and Liam


story written by Karime Sanchez

Verdynee left his home in Haiti to see the United States in 2014 on a tourist visa. Despite feeling as though he was just surviving in the US, Verdynee felt that his opportunity for a better life would be in the United States. Verdynee knew that if he returned to Haiti, he would be awaited by gangs, kidnappings, and hunger among other problems. At the suggestion of his family, he decided to stay in the United States. They all agreed that it would be better to be undocumented in the United States than to be in Haiti. Despite missing his family back home, Verdynee endured the struggle to succeed in the United States. Verdynee began his journey cleaning people’s homes to make a living.

Verdynee’s problems did not end when he left Haiti. In the United States, Verdynee married a woman and received a green card, thus reaching a goal that many undocumented immigrants seek. Yet, Verdynee’s wife became emotionally and economically controlling. Verdynee felt stifled as he had little power over his financial situation. Verdynee was unable to send money home to his family or attend college like he had been dreaming. Thankfully, Verdynee was able to escape this situation.

After their separation, Verdynee had the liberty to begin looking for other possibilities for his life. He began the process of renewing his green card and spending thousands of dollars while simultaneously attending college. The balance was difficult and his situation was made even harder when he received an order of deportation. To continue attending college, Verdynee felt compelled to hide the truth about the deportation from his school to avoid issues. He told the college that his green card was in process. Verdynee was unable to properly study because he was often too busy or stressed trying to receive his residency.

Verdynee spent time calling and visiting organizations that could potentially help him to renew his green card. Finally, someone from his college put him in contact with managing attorney TJ Mills from New York Justice for Our Neighbors (NY JFON). Verdynee describes meeting TJ and feeling his stress slowly disappear. To Verdynee, TJ worked with him like he knew him for a long time despite having just met Verdynee. Verdynee describes that TJ treated him as part of a team. Verdynee felt they were coworkers. With TJ’s help, Verdynee received a one-year extension. Meanwhile, TJ would help Verdynee build a case for a permanent solution for Verdynee to remain in the US. Verdynee was able to continue college uninterrupted because TJ was able to secure his stay. Verdynee’s two-step degree led him to receive a diploma in May of this year and soon, he will have a license in Federal Administration Aviation, more commonly known as the FAA.

Verdynee’s qualifications and his job security give him and his seven-year-old son Liam the ability to achieve a bright future. Although Verdynee states that he has no one in the United States, he hopes to be present for his son. When asked what he dreams for his son, Verdynee hopes that Liam will be a leader. The father feels as though the U.S. can make anything possible for him and Liam. His son can be anything he wants, even the President of the country. To Verdynee, Liam is his whole life. Despite his young age, Verdynee describes Liam as an intelligent boy who loves seafood.

When asked to describe what JFON has meant in his life, Verdynee stated “I have no words to explain it, JFON took me from zero –from deportation– to where I am now. Now, I am a volunteer to give back to them what they gave to me. JFON has helped me more than people I have paid. They mean a lot to me. I feel like a member of the organization, not just a client anymore.” When Verdynee received his green card, TJ asked what Verdynee wanted next. Verdynee replied affirmatively that he wanted a U.S. passport since his current job at Amtrak required him to travel on trains to Canada often. TJ assured Verdynee that this next step was possible. In March of this year, Verdynee became a US citizen.

We wish Verdynee, Liam, and the NY JFON Network a very Happy Father’s Day!


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