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He's been locked up for 2 months after ICE raid. He's here legally, NC rep says

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer reviews forms at the Pacific Enforcement Response Center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on April 26, 2017.  On Thursday, an ICE spokesman said a man who entered the country legally from Mexico will remain in ICE custody, despite a North Carolina congressman's assertion that he should be freed.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer reviews forms at the Pacific Enforcement Response Center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on April 26, 2017. On Thursday, an ICE spokesman said a man who entered the country legally from Mexico will remain in ICE custody, despite a North Carolina congressman's assertion that he should be freed. Los Angeles Times/TNS

A man who entered the country legally from Mexico will remain in ICE custody, despite a North Carolina congressman's assertion that he should be freed, an ICE spokesman said Thursday.

ICE "incorrectly detained" Juan Manuel Guardian-Romero in an April raid in the North Carolina mountains, U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said in a statement this week, Asheville ABC-TV affiliate WLOS reported.

Price's statement said the case "is a prime example of the Trump Administration's preference to arrest first and ask questions later for anyone who could be an immigrant," according to WLOS.

Guardian-Romero has documents proving he's in the country legally, his brother, Jesus, and friend Santiago Garcia-Leco told the (Asheville) Citizen Times.

"This just shows that the immigration system is broken," Garcia-Leco told the newspaper.

Guardian-Romero did "lawfully enter" the U.S. on Dec. 7, 2017, as a "nonimmigrant visitor," Bryan Cox, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Observer on Thursday.

However, Guardian-Romero went to Mexico on Jan. 26, Cox said in a statement, and "there is no record" of him "lawfully re-entering the U.S. following his departure."

On April 14, ICE arrested "unlawfully present Mexican national Juan Manuel Guardian-Romero during a targeted enforcement action in Spruce Pine, North Carolina," Cox said in the statement. "Mr. Guardian-Romero remains in ICE custody as an unlawfully present foreign national."

Since his arrest, Guardian-Romero has been at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga.. The private prison is operated by Corrections Corporation of America under contract with ICE.

A federal immigration judge will now hear his case, Cox said.

"ICE will await the outcome of his proceedings before the federal immigration courts before determining future action," Cox said in the statement.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak
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