U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appears to be illegally holding a gay asylum seeker from Honduras, refusing to release the man even after a U.S. District judge ruled that the agency must issue an "individualized determination" in his case.
The asylum seeker is named Darwin. He fled death threats and homophobic violence in Honduras, along with his partner Oscar and his younger brother. ICE separated the family members from each other after they arrived in California in March of 2019. According to a Darwin, his younger brother atttempted suicide twice after being detained in a shelter in Texas.
In September, ICE granted asylum to Oscar, who is now living with a sponsoring family in Aurora, Colorado, but not to the rest of the family.
Darwin meets all criteria for release, according to sponsor Margaret Bobb, but his application was denied. ICE deemed him a "flight risk," despite his partner now legally residing in Colorado. That rejection came as a form letter rejecting Darwin's petition for parole, with no mention of any details specific to Darwin's case. Such blanket denials of parole were banned by a judge in September, who ruled that ICE could not reject entire groups of people and must instead make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
As a result, Darwin is still being held indefinitely in Louisiana, separated from his partner and brother. According to Darwin, when he asked ICE officials in detention about the September ruling, they denied that it applied to his case, and that they had been instructed to continue issuing blanket denials.
"It is terrifying to think that Darwin might have to come before a judge in Louisiana (a LGBTQ-hostile state), while wearing a prison jumpsuit," wrote Bobb in an email interview with Out. "He deserves to be out on parole, with us, so he can have his asylum hearing in the Denver federal immigration court."
"It is clear from the denial letter that ICE is not complying with Judge Boasberg's order to make individualized parole determinations," wrote attorney David Bennion in a press release. Bennion is representing Darwin in his legal struggles.
Bennion, along with Darwin and the Bobb family, will hold a rally this afternoon at the office of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. Advocates will ask the senator to intervene in the case and to confront the agency over its apparent disregard for the district judge's ruling. The rally will occur at 4 p.m. at Senator Bennet's office at 1244 Speer Blvd in Denver.
"We really need Sen. Bennett to help and intervene here," Bennion said.
"If ICE has denied parole, in contempt of a judge's order...what do we do?" Bobb wrote to Out. "Find the most powerful federal legislator we can."