As a child in Mexico, Carlos “Patricio” Bringas-Rodriquez was told: “Act like a boy. You are not a woman.”
He fled to the United States but missed his grandmother, so he returned to Mexico as a teenager. Again, relatives beat him, raped him and demeaned him because of his sexuality. He says they threatened to hurt his grandmother if he told anyone of the abuse.
So again he fled, seeking asylum in the United States. For years, he remained in the country without trouble. Bringas-Rodriguez married a Kansas doctor, Michael Young, and the couple was raising a cousin as their daughter in Leawood. Then, despite a federal court order in March, the Department of Homeland Security deported him three days before Christmas.
The court stepped in again recently, demanding he be allowed to return to the United States. And on Tuesday, DHS complied, allowing Bringas-Rodriguez to return.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Bringas-Rodriguez faced deportation last year despite successfully arguing he was persecuted by his relatives for being gay back in Mexico. That is when the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted him asylum.
But that didn’t stop him from being wrenched away from his husband, cousin and the life he’d built in the KC area.
“What this agency did to a victim of horrific childhood sexual persecution is unconscionable,” said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, a KC-based attorney who represented Bringas-Rodriguez. “No family should ever have to be terrified because they don’t know where their loved one is and have every reason to believe that their loved one is in harms way.”
Bringas-Rodriguez, who is HIV-positive, was detained by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement officials after he missed an August court appearance — which he wasn’t notified for and which was 1,500 miles away from his home —and dumped at the border with a limited supply of his HIV medications, the Washington Blade reported.
“It’s even worse because DHS knew where he was and his address. His whereabouts are mentioned even in the appeals court decision,” Sharma-Crawford said.
He holed up in a hotel with his dwindling supply of medication.
At the court proceeding that Bringas-Rodriguez missed, an immigration judge issued a final order of removal, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack told the Blade.
That order “served as the basis for his removal,” she added. “A motion to reopen his case was filed Dec. 26, and proceedings in his case are ongoing.”
Munmeeth Soni, a legal director for the L.A.-based Immigrant Defenders Law Center, told the Blade that it constituted “inhumane and outrageous treatment” and surmised that President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies are responsible.
“I’d like to think that they wouldn’t have done that under the prior administration, but that under this administration, given the tenor of both Trump as well as [U.S. Attorney General Jeff] Sessions against immigrants, irrespective of whether they’re here lawfully or not, or who they are, or what they’ve done for the communities, the bottom line is to deport them,” Soni said.
Sharma-Crawford said DHS has been empowered by the Trump administration to “disregard due process” and “deny protections to vulnerable individuals.”
“That should shock the American conscience,” she said. “What ICE did in removing Patricio without caring about his safety says a lot about the state of humanity under this administration. What DHS lawyers did in failing to disclose exculpatory evidence to the court says a lot about the state of ethics under this administration. Either way, it should send off alarm bells.”
She added that Bringas-Rodriguez was denied access to his counsel as he was being deported.
“I actually never thought that I would come back,” Bringas-Rodriguez told KMBC.
Deportations have increased under Trump. Officials deported 54,000 immigrants from Jan. 22 to Sept. 9, a 34 percent increase over the same period last year.
Bringas-Rodriguez was aided by the legal work of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center.
“Justice prevails!” wrote the Immigrant Defenders Law Center as Bringas-Rodriguez was en route back to his home.
The Law Center published a short video of him at the San Diego airport as he awaited a flight to Kansas City.
“It has been a very long day, very stressful, not knowing what’s going on,” he said. “But I’m here at the airport. I’m going home. Thank you to everybody who reached out, thank you to everybody for supporting me. ... I just want to say thank you.”