Nine months after initial arrest by Philly Customs, illegal immigrant scheduled to be released

ACLU files asylum lawsuit for gay Mexican man detained by ICE

A gay Mexican immigrant married to an American is set to be released from federal custody Thursday, nine months after he was detained while applying for legal citizenship in Philadelphia.

Jose “Ivan” Nuñez Martinez, who came to the U.S. illegally in 2001 out of fear for his life after a gay friend was killed in Mexico, was arrested on Jan. 31, 2018, while he was in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Philadelphia to apply for citizenship.

Martinez’ husband, Paul Frame, said at the time that he had urged Ivan to apply for legal citizenship to improve his quality of life – not knowing that Ivan’s application would trigger an ICE detainer on a 2010 deportation order from the last time he was caught illegally crossing the border.

On Oct. 24, an immigration judge ordered Ivan released from a York County detention facility on a $10,000 bond pending the resolution of his immigration case, WHYY reported. As of press-time on Oct. 25, supporters and family are still awaiting his formal release.

Ivan’s I-130 “petition for alien relative” based on his marriage to Frame, a Chester County native, was granted in January at the time of Ivan’s arrest.

Ivan had re-entered the country after one prior deportation, and married Frame in 2016.

The ACLU’s Pennsylvania chapter filed a petition for legal asylum on Ivan’s behalf based on a credible fear of violent persecution in his homeland in May 2018.

Husband of immigrant in custody discusses case

Paul Frame speaks in January 2018 about the arrest of his husband Ivan Nunez, who was arrested by ICE while applying for citizenship and now faces deportation. (Sam Newhouse)

Immigrant still faces deportation

The immigration judge who granted Ivan’s release on bond pending appeal of his deportation case had previously denied withholding the deportation order based on his request for asylum. So Ivan still faces a very possible chance of being ordered deported in the coming weeks and months.

At the time of his arrest, attorneys said Ivan’s arrest while following federal protocols to apply for citizenship marked a new level of severity in the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigrants.

“Prior to the Trump administration, we weren’t seeing very many people actually being sought and captured when they’re trying to go through these proceedings,” attorney Gonzalo Peralta said at the time. “It’s only been very recently and with Ivan’s case that we’ve actually seen ICE go into USCIS offices.”