Activists on Wednesday called on federal Immigration officials to halt the deportation of a 34-year old gay San Francisco man as pride month kicks off.
The protest organized by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, immigration advocates and the National Day Laborers Organizing Network gathered several people outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs building on behalf of Heriberto Martinez Nolasco, who was taken by agents from his home on June 1.
Activists said it was without a warrant.
A statement released by an ICE spokesperson explained, “As a foreign national whose case history includes a prior removal and a recent conviction for driving under the influence he falls under the agency’s immigration enforcement priorities.”
Nolasco, originally from Mexico City, came to San Francisco in 2003 to escape the homophobic violence and attacks placed against him, the activists said. He has been with his partner, Eric Bernackie, for the past 11-years, sharing a home in Bernal Heights.
Activists said the only conviction found in Nolasco’s records was a DUI in 2015 where he was found sleeping in his parked car. Nolasco spent one night in jail, completed classes and paid his fines. He was also a survivor of a violent robbery in San Francisco and prior to being arrested by ICE, was in the process of obtaining a U Visa for survivors of a crime.
“The fact that ICE is seeking to deport vulnerable people like Beto only exacerbated the grief and underscores the many forms of abuse which LGBTQ communities of color constantly face,” stated a press release by the organizers of the protest.
As the Supreme Court decision on immigration executive action nears, Nolasco’s case highlights the struggle of LGBTQ community members that are excluded from deportation relief programs.
“It will be up to an immigration judge with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to determine whether he has a legal basis to remain in the U.S.” explained the statement released by an ICE spokesperson.