YORK - A gay, married man who has been held in immigration detention since January will finally have an opportunity to argue for his release today before an immigration judge, according to a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the law firm DLA Piper. Jose “Ivan” Noe Nuñez Martinez was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on January 31 and has been held in the York County Prison ever since.

Since his arrest, many organizations and community members have rallied for his release, including Juntos, Galaei, and his loved ones.

“Ivan’s detention is excessive, unnecessary, and just plain cruel,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “He is a cherished member of his community and is no threat to public safety. It’s time for Ivan to be released and reunited with his loved ones.”

A native of Michoacán, Mexico, Nuñez Martinez fled to the United States after the murder of a gay friend in 2001. He eventually settled in Chester County, where he’d been working for an auto body repair shop. In 2016, he married Paul Frame, a U.S. citizen.

In his immigration court proceedings, he is seeking to avoid being deported to Mexico, where he fears persecution on account of his sexual orientation.

“The last eight months of being separated from my husband while he has been detained has been the hardest thing either of us has ever endured,” Frame said. “Not being able to give each other a hug or even have a private conversation without a plastic wall between us for nearly a year has been devastating.

“Ivan and I have missed celebrating our birthdays, holidays, and our anniversary while he has been behind prison walls. Ivan has lost over 40 pounds and has been ill several times while in detention. The stress we have both been under has been unending. All we want is to be able to live as a married couple again.”

In May, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and volunteer attorneys from the law firm DLA Piper filed a federal habeas corpus petition on Nuñez Martinez’s behalf after he had been held for nearly four months without a bond hearing. Last week, federal district court Judge Christopher Conner ordered the immigration court to hold the hearing.

Today’s hearing is being held before Judge Kuyomars Golparvar at the York Immigration Court.

Since his detention, community advocates have rallied around Nuñez Martinez’s case.

“Ivan has spent months unnecessarily locked up at the York Detention Center as he fights his case,” said Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos. “He could and should be at home with his husband. This indefinite detention is a direct violation of his rights, and we in Juntos will continue to stand with Ivan until he is free to be with his loving family again.”

“What Ivan and his family have had to endure the last 10 months is completely unacceptable,”  said Francisco Cortes, interim executive director of Galaei. “While with today’s hearing, we are one step closer to uniting Ivan with his husband and family, the work is not done. In a time when immigrant communities and LGBTQ people are constantly under attack, we must come together to support, protect, and center those living at the margins.

“As a queer Latinx organization, Galaei stands alongside Ivan and his husband and will continue to organize until he is free.”

In his habeas case, Nuñez Martinez is represented by Golnaz Fakhimi and Witold Walczak of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Ilana H. Eisenstein, Lauren M. Wilchek, and Ben Fabens-Lassen of DLA Piper. He is represented before the Executive Office for Immigration Review by Audrey L. Allen and Gonzalo Peralta of Audrey L. Allen Immigration Law LLC.

For more information about this case, visit aclupa.org/NunezMartinez.