An immigrant went to an ICE office in Pennsylvania for a mandatory marriage interview. Now he's being detained despite fears he could be murdered if he returns to Mexico.
Nearly 400 years after the Mayflower landed in New England, Jose "Ivan" Noe Nuñez Martinez fled persecution in Mexico, hoping to find peace and happiness in Pennsylvania.
According to the ACLU, Nuñez Martinez is now being detained and kept apart from his husband, and he could face death if he is forced to go back to Mexico.
"Ivan's detention is a good example of unlawful and unjust action on the part of immigration authorities," said ACLU attorney Golnaz Fakhimi.
His husband, Paul Frame, choked back tears as he addressed reporters at a recent press conference.
"There’s really nothing up at the prison for him to do," Frame said. "He sits there, every day, thinking what the next step’s going to be in his life."
Activists and supporters from the community rallied to demand that Nuñez Martinez be freed.
"Paul, we stand in solidarity with you," said Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way LGBT Community Center. "I know how much he can contribute, and how much other immigrants who are behind bars can contribute, to our communities."
Nuñez Martinez's journey to the United States began in 2001 when a close friend, who was also gay, was murdered. Nuñez Martinez received threats, then fled Mexico fearing for his life.
He has lived in the United States for almost 20 years, and has no criminal charges or convictions, according to his attorneys. Before he was detained, he worked at an auto body shop.
According to WHYY, Nuñez Martinez "has already passed 'credible fear' interview — meaning a U.S. official determined he qualifies for withholding of removal based on fear of persecution in his home country."
Nuñez Martinez married Frame in 2016, but now their family is ripped apart by what the ACLU calls an unlawful detention.
In late January, he was "taken into custody during a mandatory marriage interview at immigration offices," according to WITF. Nuñez Martinez has an asylum hearing scheduled for August.
"Frame earlier said that his husband was doing exactly what immigration critics demand, 'getting in line' and filing papers to live here legally," the Inquirer reports.
"It's a lonely feeling, you know, moving into the house, and he’s not there," said Frame. "There's certain things I want to do, but I’m waiting for him."
The Trump administration relishes ripping immigrant families apart and is actively seeking to increase this barbaric behavior. ICE roundups and detentions have increased under Trump, and data reviewed by the New York Times shows "more than 700 children have been taken from adults claiming to be their parents since October, including more than 100 children under the age of 4."
ICE has also torn immigrants away from their spouses. Earlier this month, Army officer Tim Martin Brown posted a heartbreaking video on Facebook about his husband's detention by ICE.
"My spouse is now en route to Honduras, which by the way is hostile to LGBTQ community,” Brown said in his video, adding, "He hasn’t been there since he was seven or eight."
Now Frames and Nuñez Martinez face a similar situation, separated by ICE and not knowing whether they will be reunited or whether Nuñez Martinez will be deported.
"This is an exemplary case of a man who is being detained with absolutely no reason," said his immigration attorney Audrey Allen, noting Nuñez Martinez is not a flight risk, nor a security risk.
Nuñez Martinez remains locked up at the York County Detention Center as he and his husband and their supporters await the hearing to find out whether he will be able to return home.