SAN DIEGO — The first migrant granted asylum under the president’s “Remain in Mexico” policy may not be in the clear just yet.
On Wednesday, faith leaders and human rights activists met in downtown San Diego to demand the U.S. government release a minister by the name of Alec who has been granted asylum under the president's "Remain in Mexico" policy.
"The Dept. of Homeland Security has held him in custody since yesterday. Since he won his case, and they are threatening to deport him to expel him pending a possible appeal. Unfortunately, what should be a relief for this person, who goes by the name of Alec, is turning into a nightmare,” said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego.
Guerrero says the refugee is a married 30-year-old father of three and minister from Honduras named Alec. His attorney from South Africa Robyn Barnard is working to get him free.
“It's a pretty horrible situation to be in. I am very scared for him and I'm sure he is confused and scared right now himself,” said Barnard who hasn't been able to contact Alec since his court appearance on Tuesday.
Barnard says Alec has been stuck in Tijuana for six months even after an immigration judge ruled that Alec should be admitted into the United States as a refugee.
According to Barnard, Alec he fled Central America because he is a Christian preacher.
“Because of that work he was targeted by the gang MS13. He recruited MS13 gang members away from the gang and because of that he drew the ire of MS13. He was threatened with death. He was attacked and shot by the gang,” he said.
San Diego religious leaders are also calling for the refugee's release.
“We must do what is morally right not what is politically expedient,” said Reverend Dr. Beth Johnson of Palomar Unitarian.
“It is a matter of justice to help the oppressed and those who come to this country seeking a better life,” said Reverend Dr. Jay Lee Hill Jr. of the Christian Fellowship Congregation.
President Trump started the "Remain in Mexico" programs in January. Close to 13,000 "Remain in Mexico" cases are currently waiting to be heard - Alec is just one of the many cases.
Barnard, who is a human rights attorney, said “this is the first time someone has actually been granted protection under this 'Remain in Mexico' policy. Alec is a law-abiding citizen. He is someone we should be welcoming in this community not sending in detention or harm's way in Mexico."
Currently, Alec is in the custody of DHS waiting to hear if they are going to appeal the decision. The government has 30 days to appeal the decision.