Classmates, immigrant rights group hold rally in New Haven for CT student held in ICE detention center since September

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A rally for a New Haven student being held in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Massachusetts was held Monday.

RELATED: Wilbur Cross High School students hold rally in support of classmate facing deportation

Mario Aguilar Castanon, a Guatemalan native, was detained in September by ICE agents on his way to the Milford courthouse on misdemeanor DUI charges.

Several dozen of Aguilar’s classmates, immigrant rights advocacy groups, and community members gathered on the steps of the New Haven courthouse to call for his release Monday afternoon.

Ben Haldman represents Aguilar and says he doesn’t understand why his client is being held in custody without bond.

“He’s a high school student. He’s been there the entire fall semester. There’s really no excuse for ICE to continue holding him. Whatever the immigration judge does, ICE always has the discretion to release him at any time. We’ve continually made that request.

We’ve presented comprehensive plans for his release and ensuring the safety of the community and ensuring he would attend all of his court dates so it doesn’t make any sense to us why he’s still detained.”

– Ben Haldman, lawyer to Mario Aguilar

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, furious: “I’m furious that they’re still holding Mario two days before Christmas.”

Some that know Aguilar, and others that do not know him personally, came together to support someone who – they say – was a vibrant part of their community.

“He’s a great student. We know that his teachers loved him, we know that his classmates loved him and who he was. He was interested in science and math and all of this fun stuff and was a really hard working student.

– Eric Cruz Lopez, Programming Coordinator for CT Students for a Dream

It’s tough. He’s been in there for over 100 days. 3 months and that wears on you. He’s in a room with 60 other guys in bunk beds. That’s his entire existence right now. It’s really tough.”

– Ben Haldman, lawyer to Mario Aguilar

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