OAKLAND PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - A young man seeking political asylum ended up being detained in South Florida and is now facing deportation.
Twenty-two-year-old Marco Coello is originally from Venezuela, and if he goes back, his lawyer said, he will face a decade in prison or worse because he took part in a political protest.
In 2015, Coello told a journalist that he knew he had to leave Venezuela. In 2014, he was just a high school student when he took part in a protest against the regime of Nicolás Maduro.
That demonstration eventually turned violent. Coello’s lawyer said her client was tear-gassed and arrested before being tortured. He was released due to psychological problems.
He was awaiting the conclusion of his trial when he fled to the United States. “I helped my son to get out of Venezuela,” said Armando Coello, his father, speaking through a translator.
“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 Coello’s attorney, Elizabeth Blandon.
Blandon said Coello waited and asked for his interview to be expedited. He went to a Miami Immigration Services Office on Wednesday to wait for his interview.
“Instead, what they did was detain him,” Blandon said. “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. She added that Coello is just fighting for freedom and is not a criminal.
“I am greatly in fear, and I hope the people notice this and realize there’s been a travesty of justice, and those interested in Venezuela’s political freedom will stand up for their hero and let him be released,” Blandon said.
“I never think to see this situation in this country,” Coello’s father said.
According to ICE, 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.
Blandon is currently working to get Coello an emergency bond hearing.
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