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Press conference held for New Haven student detained by ICE, now granted asylum

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Officials gave an update on a New Haven student who is being detained by ICE on Tuesday. Lawyers for 18-year-old Mario Aguilar have now confirmed that asylum for him has been granted after 111 days in detention.

Friends, families and classmates of Mario Aguliar are ending 2019 with a sense of hope. His lawyers tell News 8 the asylum petition for Aguilar has been granted.

Asylum is protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country usually as a political refugee.

According to his lawyer, Dalia Fuleihan, Aguilar – a Guatemalan native – came to the United States illegally when he was 16-years-old to escape death threats from an organized criminal gang in Guatemala and was attending Wilbur Cross High School.

Aguilar was in a car crash back in August and was charged with driving under the influence. When he went to the Milford courthouse on September 10 for a court date in relation to the DUI, ICE officials grabbed him and detained him.

CT Students for a Dream — a group that was founded by undocumented students and allies from across the state — has been fundraising and working to fight for his release. Wilbur Cross High School students also offered an outpouring amount of support.

At a midday press conference Tuesday, supporters continued their public push to get ICE to release the teen immediately.

New Haven’s Mayor-elect, Justin Elicker and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp both spoke at the press conference.

Speaking through a translator, Odilia Aguilar, Mario’s cousin, has not seen or spoken directly to her cousin since he was taken into custody by ICE officers 111 days ago.

Aguilar remains in detention while the government considers whether to appeal the ruling.

“This is a young man who is truly what we want at Wilbur Cross. This is a young man who came to school every day, who wanted to work hard, who wanted to learn English.”

– Edith Johnson / Wilbur Cross High School Principal

Johnson describes a studious young man whose absence has motivated fellow classmates to assemble, march, and petition the government for redress.

Attorney Fuleihan saying the students’ response has “certainly helped raise the profile of this case.”

“The judge did find that he had been persecuted in Guatemala and that he had a well founded fear of being persecuted if he went back there.”

– Dalia Fuleihan, attorney to Mario Aguilar

Mario told his lawyers he’s eager for release. His family waiting at home.

Odilia Aguilar anxious to talk to him face-to-face.

The federal government has one month to appeal Boston Immigration Court Judge Todd Master’s decision. Aguilar’s attorneys say they are fighting to get him out of detention as soon as possible.

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