Queens resident Edward Alonso Castillo, who was arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in January, was released from custody after nearly two months in jail.
Make the Road New York (MRNY), who is representing Alonso and his family, announced that Alonso was released on Friday, March 19, following multiple urgent requests by their lawyers over the past month as well as support from nearly 1,000 community members who signed an online petition calling for his immediate release.
“I am so happy to be back home with my family. While detained, my health was deteriorating and I knew that they could not give me the care that I needed,” Alonso, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, said.
Alonso, 48, was arrested on Jan. 28 while on his way to work at Babylon Bagel, a restaurant in Long Island he co-owns with his partner Rocio, and was held at Orange County Jail in Goshen, New York. An ICE spokesperson said Alonso was taken into custody due to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge from September 2020, which is in the process of being dismissed, and his previous history with law enforcement.
In February, Alonso, who has a history of strokes and wears a cardiac monitor, was admitted to a hospital due to severe chest pains while at the jail. He was later rushed to the hospital another time, and was removed from his unit at Orange County Jail after it was placed in medical quarantine lockdown for two weeks due to suspected COVID-19 cases in the facility, according to MRNY.
On March 9, Alonso won his asylum reasonable fear review before an immigration judge, allowing him to fight his removal proceedings and preventing ICE from deporting him until his proceedings are complete, according to MRNY. But they said ICE denied Alonso’s parole a day after, even as a medical review concluded that Alonso is at high risk of health complications and of suffering severe complications from COVID-19 due to his underlying conditions.
Now, Alonso is back home in Jamaica with his children and partner, and said he’ll receive the medical attention he needs.
“Every day, I worried about my health and I did not know if I was going to be able to see my family again,” Alonso said. “I’m so thankful for the incredible support I received for my release.”
The immigrant rights group maintain that Alonso’s long delayed release is alarming due to ICE’s new enforcement guidelines under the Joe Biden administration, which they say does not make him a priority for arrest nor deportation.
Jackie Pearce, senior raids response attorney at MRNY, said they’re “thrilled” Alonso was released and is recovering at home.
“But it should not have taken a month of advocacy and the enormous support of his community to get this result,” Pearce said. “Alonso’s case shows that ICE must be held accountable to the new enforcement priorities and the agency should immediately release all people from detention who do not meet those priorities.”
According to a NY1 report, Alonso’s attorney said that it could take years for his asylum application to be resolved due to court closures and delays related to COVID-19.