Gay asylum seeker in ICE custody released upon bond payment

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday April 21, 2020
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Oumar Yaide was released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody Friday after posting a $10,000 bond. Photo: Courtesy Pangea Legal Services
Oumar Yaide was released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody Friday after posting a $10,000 bond. Photo: Courtesy Pangea Legal Services

A gay San Francisco man in United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody has been released following the payment of $10,000 bond.

The move from ICE came because it was recently discovered that Oumar Yaide, 32 (known in court documents as Abderman Yaide), was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which puts him at heightened risk for contracting COVID-19 (the illness caused by the novel coronavirus), and heightened risk of an adverse outcome should he contract the disease, which has killed tens of thousands of Americans in recent weeks.

Yaide's friend Hayley Kay set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the bond, which had to be paid in full, unlike in criminal case proceedings.

Kay said that the GoFundMe was initially a fund to help Yaide get re-established upon release and had to be re-tooled into a bond fund. She said that the news was "bittersweet."

"On the one hand, I'm elated and I'm happy, but I'm also frustrated they are asking for a $10,000 bond when other inmates are getting released because of COVID-19," Kay said in an April 16 phone call with the Bay Area Reporter, before Yaide was released.

Edwin Carmona-Cruz of Pangea Legal Services told the B.A.R. in an April 16 phone call that he was "confident" the money would be raised. It was and Yaide was released the following day.

Carmona-Cruz wrote to the B.A.R. April 21 that the $10,000 was raised through "a combination of donations from 24 hours of fundraising on GoFundMe, donations that came in via Venmo, direct donations from community members, as well as some money saved from previous fundraisers that Oumar's chosen family had raised."

Carmona-Cruz said that Yaide's release showcases the power of community organizing and activism.

"This is what happens when you have the community organizing to pressure ICE," Carmona-Cruz said. "With the GoFundMe he can pay his bond and we can get him home to his chosen family where he can shelter-in-place."

The bond was issued not by federal Judge Charles Breyer — who had been overseeing the case — but from ICE itself.

"This is what we have been saying. ICE can release anyone at any time," Carmona-Cruz said.

Yaide has been in Yuba County Jail near Sacramento since early March, when he returned to the United States from Chad. Breyer had ruled that ICE deported Yaide to Chad illegally and was obligated to return him.

Yaide, who was initially placed in ICE custody last August, had intended to reopen his asylum claim on the basis of his sexual orientation when he was deported by the DHS shortly after Thanksgiving.

"He's been through so much in the last eight months and it's amazing how resilient he's been," Kay said. "I can't wait to give him a big hug when this is all over."

Yaide's friends raised about $15,000 to pay his rent and other expenses, Kay said, and with the assistance of Pangea they sought help from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in support of Yaide.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the district where Yaide resided before his arrest, introduced a resolution in his support. It was unanimously approved.

Ronen said that this is an example of how community organizing can create tangible change in people's lives.

"Oumar is a constituent of mine from the Mission District, and we are thrilled that after months of legal limbo, he will finally be returning home," Ronen stated in an email to the B.A.R. "This is a testament to the relentless advocacy of his closest friends, the immigrant rights groups who diligently monitored his case, and the broader community of supporters who worked for months to bring Oumar home where he is safe and supported."

ICE officials did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Lexis Hernandez Avilez. Photo Courtesy SF Public Defender's office  

Trans asylum seeker still in custody
Another LGBT asylum seeker — a trans woman being detained by ICE in Texas — will be released from custody upon payment of a $10,000 bond.

However, an online fundraiser to pay the bond has only raised $855 of the total as of press time.

As the B.A.R. previously reported, Lexis Hernandez Avilez, 41, is being defended in court by the San Francisco Public Defender's office.

Her attorney, Deputy Public Defender Hector Vega, told the B.A.R. March 25 that he was planning to ask for her release. There was a court hearing via phone April 16.

"The bond was granted," Vega wrote to the B.A.R. in an email April 16. "The judge found she was not a danger and that flight risk could be mitigated with a bond of $10,000."

Avilez, however, was not released due to COVID-19 concerns, her attorney said.

"She does have a medical condition where if she were to get the virus she would be very susceptible," Vega said in a phone interview with the B.A.R. April 17. "However, the judge was very clear that it was solely based on other circumstances."

In 2005, Avilez had been convicted of a gang-related assault.

"The judge focused on the fact that it has been 15 years since her last criminal action," Vega said. "The judge acknowledged everything that has changed since; she pointed to the completion of rehabilitative programs while in detention, and that her focus today is to stay well and healthy as she continues her gender confirmation treatment.

"She acknowledged all the family support [Avilez] has and wished her good luck with the rest of her case," Vega added.

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