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Connecticut Immigrant Remains In ICE Detention During Pandemic Despite Appeals Court Ruling

Courtesy: Thompson family
Richard Marvin Thompson with members of his family

A federal appeals court has reversed a decision by immigration authorities in the case of a Connecticut man facing deportation, ordering the Board of Immigration Appeals to respect the state’s pardons.

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Richard Marvin Thompson was brought legally to Connecticut from Jamaica by his father. He was 14 at the time and lived here as a permanent resident. When he was 18, he got into a fight and was convicted of second-degree assault. Eleven years later, ICE decided to deport him. But in 2017, the state granted Thompson a “full, absolute and unconditional pardon” for the crime. Still, he remains in ICE detention. 

The government argued that because Connecticut’s pardons come from the Board of Pardons and Paroles rather than directly from the governor, they weren’t valid.  In its ruling, the court disagreed. 

“They found a blatant legal error and they said, ‘We’re going to vacate that decision,’’ said Thompson’s lawyer, Gregory Romanovsky. “The court did not order his release. The court simply said, ‘You, the Board of Immigration Appeals, need to look at the case again because you made a legal error.’”

Thompson, now 37, has spent five of the last seven years in ICE detention. His fiancée and two children live in Bridgeport.  

He’s spoken with Connecticut Public Radio’s Morning Edition several times from inside the Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama. He spoke again with Connecticut Public Radio’s Morning Edition host, Diane Orson, after this ruling, and she asked how he was feeling. 

Hear the interview below: