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Old 08-15-2008, 07:29 PM
 
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SAN DIEGO—A transgendered Mexican woman who was granted asylum in the U.S. should be released immediately from the immigration jail while her case is under appeal, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The ACLU said Oscar "Diana" Santander should be released while the government appeals an immigration judge's ruling in May that granted Santander asylum because she would be at risk of torture if deported to Mexico.

Santander, 42, came to California illegally in 1994 but was deported in 2001 to Tijuana, Mexico, across the border from San Diego. Her attorneys claim she was held for 72 hours and forced by Mexican authorities police to perform oral sex.

She returned to the U.S. in 2004 and was arrested in Los Angeles in 2007 for trespassing and prostitution. Santander then applied for asylum protection as a transgendered person.

She has been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody since April 2007.

"In the absence of the torture and persecution she would not have a separate basis to stay here," said Bardis Vakili, a San Diego lawyer who assisted with Santander's asylum claim.

ICE said in its appeal of the asylum grant that Santander is not eligible for asylum because she was once jailed in Mexico for robbery and is therefore considered an aggravated felon. Her lawyers said she was not convicted of the crime.

http://www.montereyherald.com/state/ci_10207010?nclick_check=1 (broken link)
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