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U.S. immigration officials free gay Ethiopian man pending asylum request

Monday, March 31, 2014
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BOSTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Boston have released 19-year-old gay Ethiopian man who was facing deportation back to his home country where knowledge that he is gay could land him in prison.

ICEU.S. officials arrested the young man in January shortly after he lost his student visa, and brought him before an immigration judge for deportation twice in February.

The man, whose identity has been concealed for legal reasons, identified himself as gay in an online forum while looking for support from the college community.

He has told U.S. officials he fears for his safety if sent back to Ethiopia.

An official with Amnesty International told LGBTQ Nation that LGBT people in Ethiopia face criminal sanctions and prison time for offenses related to same-sex relations, and are often victims of abuse.

Todd Williams, an openly gay Republican candidate for Massachusetts state senator, told the Boston Globe that the Ethiopian man’s case reflected the risks in the U.S. immigration system, which does not assign public defenders to people facing deportation.

“Now we’re the process of getting him asylum,” Williams added.

He noted that ICE is requiring the man to wear an electronic tracking device on his ankle while he is free from custody.

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