The Comayagua prison fire garnered international attention for its mysterious circumstances and fatal consequences. More than 350 inmates died in the blaze and the cause of the fire is still unknown. One of those deceased inmates, though, was wrongfully deported from the U.S. and there are questions being raised about how Immigration and Customs Enforcement handles deportation cases.
The 20-year-old man faced deportation after being affiliated with a gang in Los Angeles, California. ICE officials detained him in September 2011 and prepared the man for deportation – but he filed a stay of removal, allowing him to remain in the country until his case could be reviewed. The 20-year-old’s lawyer confirmed that the motion was confirmed by deportation officers.
Despite the stay, the 20-year-old was sent back to his native country where he was quickly imprisoned for his role in a Honduran gang. He was sent to Comayagua where he died in the fire, and his family wants to know why the stay was ignored by immigration and deportation officials.
According to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the organization that oversees all immigration courts in the country, records indicate that the 20-year-old’s stay of removal was received.
Blaming a paperwork error or miscommunication for causing an illegal immigrant to be improperly deported is unacceptable, especially when there are legal records that outline why the detainee is to remain in the country. The same U.S. laws that critics point to when advocating that illegal immigrants should be deported also afford those very illegal immigrants the ability to remain here – even if only on a temporary basis – if done in a proper fashion.
This 20-year-old went through the correct legal channels to earn his stay. The seemingly negligent and blatant disregard for the court order granting his stay indirectly sent the man to his death.
Source: KPCC, “Honduran LA resident accidentally deported, then dies in prison fire,” Ruxandra Guidi, Mar. 2, 2012