Gus Kenworthy
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ICE Is Indefinitely Detaining a Gay Asylum Seeker Despite Court Order

Families belong together sign

A gay man from Honduras is being indefinitely detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in an apparent rejection of a federal court ruling.  

According to Out, Darwin Garcia Portillo, his partner, Oscar Juarez Hernandez, and Garcia Portillo’s 16-year-old brother first sought asylum in the United States in March. Denver’s ABC affiliate reports that while in Honduras, Garcia Portillo and Juarez Hernandez faced homophobic death threats, compelling them to flee for their lives.

When they presented themselves at the border, though, officials split the three up. Juarez Hernandez, 19, was sent to a facility in Colorado, while Garcia Portillo wound up in Louisiana. His little brother is currently being held in a juvenile facility in Texas. A judge granted Juarez Hernandez asylum, releasing him to a family who requested to sponsor all three of them. But because officials deemed Garcia Portillo to be a “flight risk,” his petition for parole was rejected.

Out reports that officials issued the rejection via a form letter, in apparent defiance of a September federal court ruling from James E. Boasberg that ICE must stop issuing blanket denials of parole to asylum seekers. As of that ruling, not a single asylum seeker had been granted parole in all of 2019.

Garcia Portillo's lawyer, David Bennion, argued that the authorities are well aware that his client's partner is living with the same family who has asked to sponsor him, Newsweek reports

“It is clear from the denial letter that ICE is not complying with Judge Boasberg’s order to make individualized parole determinations,” wrote Bennion in a press release.

“Darwin has been targeted by other detainees who don’t like being locked up with gay people,” Bennion told ABC News. “Darwin, and other LGBT detainees, they can’t go to the bathroom by themselves; they have to take showers together to protect themselves, so they won’t get beaten or raped.” 

According to Newsweek, Garcia Portillo will attend a video conference asylum hearing Thursday.

ICE has a grim track record when it comes to the welfare of migrants in general, but especially LGBTQ ones. Last year, an independent autopsy showed that a trans woman named Roxsana Hernandez who died in ICE custody had been abused and dehydrated before her death. A coroner’s report about six months later disputed the findings, angering advocates. ICE then claimed a video of the conditions Hernandez faced had been deleted; U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris and Richard Blumenthal have demanded a special counsel investigation in response.

And on June 1, Johana Medina, a trans woman from El Salvador, died in ICE custody. 

In September, 14 human rights organizations united to demand the release of all LGBTQ immigrants. Among other concerns, they cited inadequate medical care, especially for those with HIV. 

Tags: News

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