Venezuelan native seeking asylum released from custody

OAKLAND PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - A young man from Venezuela who ended up being detained in South Florida after he’d sought asylum in the U.S. has been released, immigration officials said.

Twenty-two-year-old Marco Coello was released from the Krome Detention Center after being behind bars for about 24 hours.

He was released Thursday wearing the same suit he wore to his interview with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement the day before.

“I’m feeling, right now, so good. Confused, good, relaxed for having the liberty,” Coello said. “I’m waiting for the next step for my legal status.”

Coello’s lawyer, Elizabeth Blandon, said her client, who was a high school student when he participated in a protest against the regime of Nicolás Maduro, would face a decade in prison or worse because he took part in that 2014 demonstration.

“A gentleman who is considered a Venezuelan hero, someone who was fighting for the freedom of expression in Venezuela, was simply asking for asylum,” said Blandon.

He was awaiting the conclusion of his trial when he fled to the United States. He said he feared he would face prison, even though he was not even convicted.

Blandon said, after years of waiting for an interview with immigration officials, her client finally had one scheduled for Wednesday. That’s when they took him into custody. They released him without an explanation.

“Instead, what they did was detain him,” said Blandon. “Two Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers took him into custody, and when I asked, ‘For what reason are you taking him into custody? What possible reason do you have to take this gentleman into custody?’ One of the officers said, ‘He’s an overstay.'”

According to Blandon, that is only because the U.S. government delayed his interview.

Without an explanation, Coello was released Thursday morning.

Hours later, Coello’s team declared that the fight is on. “I am scared to go back to my country,” Coello said. “I believe that everything is good and the United States support me and help me from my situation.”

“If he goes back to Venezuela, he might risk losing his life,” said Richard Rivas. “That’s a risk that we cannot take, he cannot take.”

7News reached out to ICE for a comment on Coello’s release, but they said they cannot give us that information.

On Wednesday, ICE said Coello has a misdemeanor criminal conviction, and he did not leave the country in accordance with a visitor’s visa. The crime turned out to be trespassing.

That incident is apparently in another state when he was trying to learn the English language. His attorney said that shouldn’t have a bearing on this case.

Coello’s lawyer said he is seeking political asylum, and they’re hoping to move forward with the process.

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