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Undocumented Teen, in Custody for Almost a Year, Ordered Released

San Francisco Chronicle

An undocumented mentally disturbed teenager from Guatemala, taken to California by federal officers and locked up for nearly a year, has been returned to his mother in Ohio after a judge in San Francisco ordered officials to justify his confinement.

The 17-year-old, identified in court filings as B.D.A.C., was released Tuesday from the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility in Woodland and flown to Ohio, where he was reunited with his mother and two adult sisters, said the family’s lawyer, Travis Silva. The mother has applied for political asylum, and the youth will also seek protection from deportation, Silva said.

The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, which supervises immigrant minors in federal custody, “brazenly violates these children’s rights until it’s hauled into court,” Silva said.

Silva, the family lawyer, said the refugee office in late July referred the question of B.D.A.C.’s status to Scott Lloyd, the director, who took no action. The youth and his mother filed suit Nov. 8, and on Monday U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ordered the agency to respond. A day later, he was released and flown to Ohio.

“They clearly didn’t want to litigate the case, because they just didn’t have a reason to be detaining this child,” Silva said. He said B.D.A.C. will enroll in high school while applying for special immigrant juvenile status, which protects minors who have been abused or abandoned by a parent in their homeland.

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