LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – As a pilot, 28-year-old Abel Perez was almost forced into the Cuban military, but he fled to the United States.
“He never liked communism,” Perez’s cousin, Lissette Barquin, said. “He was always against that.”
Perez left his wife and child in Cuba and attempted to move to the United States.
“He’s very educated,” Barquin added. “He would be a very good citizen for this country.”
Members of Church World Service, a refugee resettlement organization in Lancaster, organized a rally on behalf of Perez on Thursday. Officials say Perez and 26-year-old Pablo Alvarez were detained by federal immigration agents when the two tried to legally enter the country through the southern border in 2017.
Perez and Alvarez are currently in the York County Prison while others argue for their asylum.
“It’s not a huge ask we’re making here,” said Brennan Jian-Grarsso, an attorney representing the two men.
Faith leaders are supporting the two men in their efforts to move to the United States.
Jian-Grasso said the case is troubling because his clients are ideal candidates for asylum. He said the two have family and jobs lined up in the United States. He said they provided all the necessary paperwork to the government but remain locked up and risk deportation.
“ICE obviously has their job to do,” Jian-Grasso said. “The reason [my clients] are given consistently is that they are flight risks.”
Jian-Grasso said he doesn’t agree with that assessment.
CWS has started a petition to have the men freed. You can see more information on that here.
ABC27 News reached out to ICE for comment on the case but hasn’t heard back.