AP NEWS

Judge orders temporary release of Cambodian immigrant

December 26, 2019 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A Cambodian man detained by immigration officials since March was expected to be temporarily released before his scheduled deportation after a federal court judge in Boston criticized how the case has been handled.

In the Christmas Eve ruling, Judge Mark Wolf took issue with how Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials didn’t interview Seoun Kim while he was in custody, even though they were required to do so, the Boston Globe reported.

“An interview is not a mere formality,” he wrote.

Wolf said an interview would have allowed Kim to explain he had complied with the conditions of his release from prison in 2014, after serving 14 years. He said Kim is “devoted to his family and has worked to support them,” and voluntarily reported to ICE as ordered.

“If ICE had discharged its duty to discuss these matters with Kim, there is a reasonable likelihood that it would have decided to release him rather than to use some of its limited jail space to continue his detention,” Wolf wrote.

Wolf ruled that Kim should be released for at least 14 days, but did not prohibit his removal by ICE during that period. Kim is currently scheduled to be deported on Jan. 5, 2020.

A Cambodian man born in a refugee camp in Thailand, Kim has been detained by ICE since March, when he was told to report to the agency because “it appeared ICE would soon obtain the documents necessary to remove him to Cambodia,” according to court documents.

Kim had come to the United States as a refugee and eventually became a permanent resident, but lost that status.