Kenyan Immigrant free after nine years in detention

One of the longest-serving immigrant detainees in the United States is now free. This week an immigration judge in California granted bond to Sylvester Owino, a 38-year-old Kenyan national, almost a decade after he was transferred into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody on no criminal charges.

In November, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an immigration court’s decision to deport Owino, ruling immigration judge Zsa Zsa De Paolo didn’t consider relevant evidence in the case. The case was remanded back to De Paolo for a third time to consider his claim under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

ICE transferred Owino from Alabama back to California for a preliminary hearing in late February, and De Paolo asked Owino how long he had been in civil custody. She acknowledged nine years was a long time and that resolution of his case would take even longer, so she ordered him to return with information for a bond hearing.

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