Free to Graduate: Local High School Senior Released from ICE Custody

A local high schooler is finally back home after spending almost two months in ICE custody.

Dario and his father arrived in New Orleans from Honduras in the summer of 2013, seeking asylum after being witnesses to a violent crime – a fact that put both their lives in danger. Since then, he’s been living the life of a normal teenager. He’s an active senior at Elanor McMain Secondary School, the kicker for the football team, a soccer player, and on the track team. He’s also a talented artist who recently enrolled in the Talented Visual Arts program.

But Dario’s dreams of graduating high school and moving on to college came into question in January of this year. Dario was driving in South Carolina while visiting with his father during his holiday break. He was pulled over and arrested by local police for speeding and driving without a license. Dario’s father paid his bail, but instead of being released, Dario was transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and sent to a detention facility in Folkston, GA.

Dario was held without bond until the end of February when supporters were finally informed that it would take $12,000 to secure his release. At the same time, they were connected to a community bond fund that would help pay. On Lundi Gras, the Refugee Aid Project by community activists in South Texas (RAICES) agreed to pay the remainder of Dario’s bond. Two teachers and a local advocate drove to Jacksonville, FL for the bond hearing on March 6th, eager to have him home.

Things weren’t that simple, however. In spite of Dario’s bond being lowered to $3,500 at the hearing, the bond clerk at the ICE office in San Antonio refused to accept the check from RAICES volunteers. It would take another six days to sort everything out.

Finally, on Wednesday, March 12th, Dario was released from ICE custody and put on a Greyhound bus to New Orleans. He then spent several days putting his life back together, including re-obtaining his Louisiana state ID, which ICE did not return to him upon his release.

His fight isn’t over – he still has an asylum hearing in 2022. But for now, Dario is back in school and returning to the life of a normal teenager.

Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.

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