ICE Allegedly Detaining LGBT Asylum Seeker in Defiance of Court Ruling

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.

usa flag behind fence
In September a federal judge ruled that ICE cannot make blanket denials of parole for detained asylum seekers, but advocates claim the agency is ignoring the law. Getty

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.

"This [being LGBT] is the basis of his asylum claim, but it also makes him vulnerable in a prison where there aren't enough guards to keep the inmates from targeting each other," Bennion told ABC. "And Darwin has been targeted by other detainees who don't like being locked up with gay people. 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."

The asylum seeker's younger brother is reportedly being detained in Texas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and according to Bennion has attempted suicide twice while in custody. He is a minor who authorities will not release without a legal guardian, and Garcia Portillo says he is his brother's only guardian.

Garcia Portillo is scheduled to take part in a video conference asylum hearing on November 7.

ICE Allegedly Detaining LGBT Asylum Seeker in Defiance of Court Ruling | News