Afghan young man in detention released on parole, supporters say $35,000 too high

Hamid, a pseudonymn, and his dental records. Source: Pangea Legal Services

An Afghan teen who fled from the Taliban has been held as an adult in ICE custody for the nearly six months was granted parole on Friday by ICE, but the young man cannot afford to pay the $35,000 bond. 

A group of high school students from "415 Unidos for Freedom" held a rally in front of the San Francisco office of California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris at 333 Bush Street at 5:30 p.m. to put pressure on leaders to make ICE lower the amount. They have written a letter and collected 24,000 community signatures on a petition supporting their cause. The signatures come from students at more than 40 high schools. 

No one from ICE responded for comment on Friday. In a statement, a spokesperson for Harris' office said that the senator has been a "fierce opponent for this administration's immigration policies that separate families, target communities in California and harm our public safety. Our office is actively involved in this case and will continue to work diligently to provide relief for this man."

A member from Harris' office plans to visit Hamid in his Bakersfield detention center on Monday. 

Attorneys for Hamid,  a pseudonym used for his safety, has been the subject of an immigration battle over his age, and whether he should be able to wait his political asylum hearings with family friends, or in an adult detention facility, since his arrival in the United States in December. Hamid admitted to using a passport that stated he was in his 20s to allow him to fly alone after his brother and father were killed in Afghanistan. Since he does not have a formal birth certificate, Hamid is believed to be 16 or 17.

Mariel Villarreal at the San Francisco-based Pangea Legal Services has been arguing his case for months before a judge. But on Friday, ICE sent a letter saying Hamid could be released on parole if he came up with the full amount and wore a GPS tracker. 

"ICE is finally admitting that my 17-year-old client is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community," Villareall said. "But after fleeing both the Taliban and ISIS, how is he supposed to come up with $35,000?" 

A GoFundMe page has been created to pay for his parole bond.