A New Haven high school student who was arrested by ICE in September has been granted asylum by the immigration court, according to his attorney.
Mario Aguilar was arrested by ICE in September when he was going to court, charged with a DUI in connection to a car crash, which his lawyer has said he denies.
According to Attorney Ben Haldeman, who is representing Aguilar, they received word of the court's decision to grant his client asylum Monday. Now they are trying to find out if ICE will appeal that decision.
ICE has 30 days to make a decision and can keep Aguilar detained during that time, Haldeman said. If they decide to appeal, they can keep him detained during the appeal process, which could take months.
Aguilar's advocates said he fled violence in Guatemala three years ago. He came to live with his uncle in New Haven.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said he’s here illegally, and that Aguilar did not show up to immigration court after he was arrested by Border Patrol near the southwest border in 2018.
Aguilar's arrest sparked outrage in the community and many from Wilbur Cross High School, where he is a student, have been protesting on his behalf.
CT Students For a Dream, which organized rallies for Aguilar, released a statement on the decision.
"Today we celebrate that Mario has been granted asylum, this is a victory of the many immigrant rights groups that have fought for his release, including CT Students for a Dream, CIRA, and the Immigrant Bail Fund, and especially the students at Cross in Action who have stood up to fight for their classmate to be released from ICE detention. We will keep fighting and pressuring ICE to make sure that he is released soon and is able to rejoin his community in New Haven and return to school. He has been detained by ICE for 4 months during which he has not been able to study or see his friends and family. "
The added that Aguilar's case is not the end of their work and said they would continue fighting to keep ICE out of courthouses.