U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have allegedly been detaining a an LGBT asylum seeker in defiance of a federal judge’s ruling.
Darwin Garcia Portillo and his partner Oscar Juarez Hernandez came to the United States from Honduras in March, accompanied by Garcia Portillo’s younger brother. The couple say their lives were threatened repeatedly in Honduras, and they sought asylum in the U.S. to escape persecution.
The group was detained after they asked for asylum while legally crossing the border near San Diego, California. Garcia Portillo was refused parole while a decision on his asylum is being made. Instead, he was detained at a facility in Louisiana while ICE refused to consider his release after deeming him a “flight risk.”
A family in Colorado legally requested to sponsor all three of the asylum seekers. In September, Hernandez was granted asylum and went to live with the family.
The same month, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg banned ICE from making blanket decisions about the status of detainees, ruling that they must instead make determinations on a case-by-case basis. The decision to deny Garcia Portillo’s request for parole was allegedly issued by form letter, with no details specific to his case.
One of Garcia Portillo’s prospective sponsors told Out that she believes he meets all the requirements for release, but ICE has refused to follow the law by making an individual determination about his fate.
Garcia Portillo’s lawyer, David Bennion, also suggested that ICE, a law enforcement agency, is willfully choosing to ignore the legal authority of the courts. He rejects the notion that the Garcia Portillo is a flight risk, especially since authorities are aware that a family has sponsored him and his partner has already been granted asylum and lives with the same family. The lawyer says that being LGBT means Garcia Portillo is also at an increased risk for abuse while being detained.
BY AILA SLISCO for NEWSWEEK
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