ACLU of Pennsylvania Files in Federal Court for Release of Gay Man From Immigration Detention

May 22, 2018
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HARRISBURG – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the law firm DLA Piper LLP (US) filed a legal complaint in federal district court to end the unlawful detention of Jose “Ivan” Noe Nuñez Martinez, requesting that the court either immediately order his release or conduct a bond hearing. Nuñez Martinez has been detained without a bond hearing since January 31, when he showed up for a mandatory interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Nuñez Martinez, 37, is a gay man from Michoacán, Mexico, who is married to Paul Frame, an American citizen. After the 2001 murder of a gay friend, Nuñez Martinez feared for his own life and fled to the United States. In order to guarantee their life together in the U.S., Frame submitted a Petition for Alien Relative to USCIS for Nuñez Martinez. On January 31, they both showed up for what they expected would be a routine marriage interview at a USCIS office. However, ICE agents stormed into the room mid-interview and arrested Nuñez Martinez, unlawfully detaining him without bond at the York County Prison, where he remains.

"I am very worried for his well-being,"said Paul Frame, Ivan's husband. "The level of anxiety and sadness that I feel when I think about him at the detention center or when I visit him is unreal, so I can only imagine the toll it has taken on him personally.

“No human being should be torn apart from their loved ones in this manner. The fact that ICE still is detaining him is absolutely ridiculous. I am hopeful that with support from the public we'll be able to be reunited soon."

For nearly 17 years, Nuñez Martinez has lived a peaceful and productive life in the United States, working full-time at an auto body repair shop and previously for a janitorial service company. In August 2014, he met and fell in love with Frame, and they married in April 2016.

“Ivan has an ongoing fear for his safety in Mexico due to his sexual orientation, and he thought he would be safer here in the U.S.,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “His detention is cruel and unjust, and it discourages people who have a legal path to staying here from pursuing it.”

Since Nuñez Martinez was detained on January 31, USCIS has determined that his marriage to Frame is bona fide and has approved Frame’s petition. In February, USCIS also found that Nuñez Martinez has a credible fear of persecution if he is returned to Mexico. Because he poses no danger to the community and is not a flight risk, his detention is wholly unnecessary.

Community advocates have rallied around his case since his detention.

“We cannot stand by and watch another family get torn apart,” saidMiguel Andrade, of the immigrant rights advocacy organization Juntos. “There is no justification for the continued detainment of Ivan by immigration officials. It is cruel and unjust to keep him away from his loved ones. He has passed his credible fear interview and should be able to continue his case on the outside. We will continue to fight until Ivan and others in our community are free from ICE’s grasp.”

The habeas petition was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Nuñez Martinez is represented by Golnaz Fakhimi and Witold Walczak of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Ilana H. Eisenstein, Lauren M. Wilchek, and Mark A. Kasten 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. To view the complaint, visit this link.

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