Judge denies MIT janitor’s request to be released from custody

Rose Lincoln
Francisco Rodriguez.

A federal judge has denied the request of an MIT janitor facing deportation to be released from custody while authorities consider his case.

Francisco Rodriguez , a 43-year-old father of two US-born children who has no criminal record, has become a political emblem of the US immigration system. Some lawmakers, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, have supported Rodriguez, who lives in Chelsea, as he’s fought his deportation.

Wednesday, Judge Richard G. Stearns’ said in court documents that Rodriguez “has not articulated a likely successful legal basis to challenge his detention in light of the final removal order.”


That does not mean Rodriguez is going to be deported immediately.

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An emergency stay granted last week by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is an administrative body that interprets and applies immigration laws,“temporarily removed the likelihood of immediate deportation” for Rodriguez, according to Stearns’ order.

Rodriguez has worked for MIT as a custodian for the last five years. He emigrated to the US in 2006, fleeing violence in his native El Salvador.

According to Stearns’ order, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rejected his asylum application in 2011 and ordered him to be removed from the country. ICE then granted a one-year stay of deportation four times from 2012 to 2016, according to court papers.

Last month, ICE denied Rodriguez’s fifth request for such a stay. He was told to show up at an ICE office with a prepaid plane ticket to El Salvador. When he reported to an ICE office in Burlington on July 13, he was taken into custody.


ICE spokesman Khaalid H. Walls said in a statement Wednesday night that Rodriguez was given the opportunity to make “timely departure arrangements” on his own.

“After he failed to do so, he was placed into ICE custody, where he’ll remain pending the outcome of his immigration case,” said Walls in the statement.

Rodriguez is currently being held at the Suffolk County House of Corrections, where he has been since he was taken into custody.

In an e-mail, Matt Cameron , an East Boston immigration attorney who is representing Rodriguez, called Wednesday’s order “disappointing.”

He said a rally in support of Rodriguez was scheduled for Thursday morning at the Massachusetts State House. That same morning, an immigration court hearing for Rodriguez’s bond request is scheduled.

Danny McDonald can be reached at