July 17, 2020 at 3:25 pm PDT | by Michael K. Lavers
ICE releases transgender asylum seeker from Honduras
Kelly González Aguilar had been in ICE custody at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility in Aurora, Colo. (Photo by Keith Gardner/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement this week released a transgender woman from Honduras who had been in their custody for more than two years.

The TransLatin@ Coalition in a tweet said ICE released Kelly González Aguilar from the Aurora Contract Detention Center, a privately-run facility in suburban Denver, on July 14. The tweet — which had pictures of González after her release — said she had been in ICE custody for 1,051 days.

González had previously been detained at the privately-run Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico where ICE in 2017 opened a unit specifically for trans women in their custody.

The TransLatin@ Coalition in an April press release notes González asked for asylum in the U.S.

“Because of her gender identity, Kelly has experienced relentless violence and abuse since she was a child in Honduras,” reads the press release.

The TransLatin@ Coalition, which is among the advocacy groups that urged ICE to release González, notes she remained in custody, despite her eligibility for parole.

The advocacy group in April released a video in which González and other trans ICE detainees at the Aurora Contract Detention Center spoke about their concerns over the coronavirus inside the facility. The TransLatin@ Coalition is among the organizations that have called for ICE to release people with HIV and other detainees who are more vulnerable to the pandemic.

“It was time that ICE made the right decision,” TransLatin@ Coalition President Bamby Salcedo told the Los Angeles Blade on Thursday in a text message. “The release of Kelly was made possible because of the pressure of the people.”

Salcedo said upwards of 80,000 people signed the TransLatin@ Coalition’s petition that demanded ICE release González. Salcedo noted to the Blade that members of Congress also backed calls for González’s release.

The Santa Fe Dreamers Project, a New Mexico-based immigrant advocacy group, also welcomed González’s release.

“Kelly’s release demonstrates that ICE has the capacity to release all immigrants from detention, particularly in the context of COVID-19,” said the Santa Fe Dreamers Project in a tweet that thanked the TransLatin@ Coalition and the National Immigration Justice Center for their efforts on González’s behalf.

“ICE did not have a valid reason to keep Kelly for that long,” Salcedo told the Blade. “They let her free a couple of days ago, but they could have done this much earlier.”

“This is just another sign about the injustices that ICE and the immigration detention system continues to portray against all of us,” added Salcedo.

The Blade has requested an interview with González.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Follow Michael

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