Bid to deport Cuban 'absurd'

A man cleared of a 1982 rape believes that immigration authorities' attempts to deport him are unfair.

Published June 14, 2006

MIAMI - A Cuban exonerated of a 1982 rape by DNA evidence said Tuesday it is absurd for immigration authorities to seek his deportation for crimes committed after he escaped from his wrongful imprisonment.

In a statement provided to the Associated Press, Orlando Bosquete said he would not have immigration problems if not for "the injustice committed against me in 1982."

"It is absurd that they are using the prison escape to aggravate my situation," Bosquete said in the note, written in Spanish. "I beg God that someone has compassion for me."

Bosquete, 52, was cleared last month after DNA proved he did not rape a woman in Key West, a crime for which he was sentenced to 55 years.

He escaped twice from prison, once remaining on the run for 10 years and allegedly committing several crimes including dealing in stolen property and illegal firearm possession.

Because of those pending charges, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials seek a deportation order against him. He arrived in the United States in the 1980 Mariel boatlift from Cuba and never attained U.S. citizenship.

Under the Cuban Adjustment Act, most Cubans who reach U.S. shores are permitted to remain. And the Supreme Court has ruled that people who are ordered deported but cannot be sent back to their home countries may not be held in U.S. detention indefinitely.

But a deportation order would require Bosquete to be placed on probation and probably submit to electronic monitoring, said his attorney, John Pratt.

"Even if he has an order of deportation, he will eventually be released," Pratt said. "So why keep on persecuting him?"

Pratt told an immigration judge at a hearing Tuesday that he hopes to negotiate a deal to drop the deportation proceedings on humanitarian grounds.

The lawyer is also talking with prosecutors in State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's office about possibly vacating the charges against him.

The judge, Kenneth Hurewitz, said he would approve an order releasing Bosquete if an agreement is reached with the federal government. Hurewitz set another hearing for July 10.

ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said she could not comment on a pending legal matter. Rundle has previously called for Bosquete to be released under supervision while the immigration issue is resolved, but ICE has decided he will stay in custody.