Judge in Hawaii stays Filipino’s deportation for fear of PH drug war
SAN FRANCISCO — A Filipino in Hawaii who was convicted on drug charges ten years ago was given a reprieve from deportation, after he claimed that sending him back to the Philippines would be a death sentence given President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs.
A federal immigration judge agreed that Herbert Cariño, 31, could face death in the Philippines, where the president has encouraged police and vigilantes to kill thousands of drug users and pushers.
The judge gave Cariño a reprieve, but that is being appealed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Cariño immigrated to Hawaii when he was 9, to live with his father, a U.S. citizen. After high school, Carino started using crystal meth. He was convicted of selling the drug at 21 and served eight years in federal prison. He was released in 2011.
He turned his life around. Today, Carino is a truck driver for a produce company and often speaks with at-risk youth about staying away from drugs, according to Hawaii News Now.
Although his father was a U.S. citizen, his family paid little attention to his own immigration status. He has a green card as lawful immigrant. But as a green card holder one can get deported if convicted for a felony, as Cariño was.
At an immigration hearing in December, immigration officers suddenly seized and detained Cariño at the Federal Detention Center until Feb. 15, when his family posted a $10,000 bond for his release.
When Carino’s latest attempt to gain U.S. citizenship was denied by an immigration appeals board, Gary Singh, Carino’s attorney, raised a new legal argument. Because of Cariño’s prior drug conviction, his life would be in danger if he was sent back in the midst of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. The immigration judge agreed.
The family is fighting Homeland Security’s appeal in the case. Carino’s fiance and two children are U.S. citizens, and the couple plan to be married in May.
“Herbert deserves every right to be here,” Carino’s fiance, Margaret Watson, told Hawaii News Now.