UPDATE 12/21/2017: After more than five months in detention, Rodriguez was released on Dec. 21st, allowing him to return home to his family while awaiting a new hearing in late summer 2018.

In 2006, Francisco Rodriguez Guardado fled gang violence in El Salvador and arrived in the United States, where he was allowed to stay for over a decade. During that time, Rodriguez became a father to four US-citizen children (including a newborn son), joined the MIT janitorial staff, started a business, and became an active community member in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denied Rodriguez’s latest request to renew his stay. Even though he complied with every ICE requirement—even presenting himself with a return ticket to El Salvador when asked—he was taken into custody in July 2017.

In a letter to the Boston Globe from the Suffolk County House of Corrections in July, Rodriguez wrote:

I was told that if I did what ICE said, I would not have to be in jail. I believed them. I came when they told me and did what they said, but they took me. I do not understand why I am here.

I believe in this country. I believe in what people can do here. I believe in God and have faith. I have permission to work in this country legally. I have paid my taxes to the government. My only mistake in my life was coming to this country the way I did. But it saved my life.

Together with the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the ACLU of Massachusetts filed an amicus brief in support of Rodriguez’s release. The ACLU of Massachusetts argues that Rodriguez’s detention is arbitrary and unlawful. The case also reflects a growing pattern of government overreach in detaining noncitizens who pose no danger or flight risk.

Photo by Rose Lincoln


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Matthew Segal, Adriana Lafaille (ACLU of Massachusetts), Sabin Willett, Julie V. Silva Palmer, Matthew C. McDonough, Arcangelo S. Cella, Vanessa M. Brown (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)