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MIT custodian detained by ICE to be released from jail

Francisco Rodriguez returned to his cell at the Suffolk County House of Correction in early September.Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

It looks like Francisco Rodriguez will be home for Christmas.

Rodriguez, an MIT custodian and father of four-US born children, has fought his detention and deportation to his native El Salvador for months. Now, his attorney said he will be released from jail in coming days.

“He’s thrilled,” John T. Bennett by telephone Wednesday night. “And his family is obviously thrilled. This was as you can imagine was welcome news for a lot of people.”

Bennett said he reached an understanding with the US Attorney’s Office Wednesday afternoon wherein Rodriguez would be released from the South Bay House of Correction, where he is being held by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), by the end of the day on Friday. ICE took him into custody on July 13.


“The big picture is he doesn’t need to be sitting in jail,” said his Bennett.

The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment. Messages left with ICE were not immediately returned Wednesday night.

Matt Cameron, another of Rodriguez’s attorneys, said under law Rodriguez couldn’t be detained indefinitely. If it’s not foreseeable that he will be deported, he can’t be held for more than six months, said Cameron.

Federal authorities recognized that argument and agreed to release him, he said.

After he is released, Bennett said his case that challenges the legality of his detention in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston will likely be tossed. Bennett plans to file a joint paper with the US Attorney’s Office that would dismiss the case, he said.

In another legal case involving Rodriguez, his appeal of an asylum claim is ongoing in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

That case could determine whether he’s allowed to stay in the US, said Bennett. A brief is due in that case on Jan. 16, said Bennett, and a decision is not expected until the second half of 2018.


Rodriguez, who has no criminal record, had worked as a custodian at MIT for the last five years. He and his family live in Chelsea. He emigrated to the US in 2006, fleeing violence and strife in El Salvador, where he worked as a mechanical engineer.

His fight to remain in the US has garnered attention in recent months; Massachusetts lawmakers, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Congressman Mike Capuano, have voiced support for Rodriguez as he faces deportation. His detention drew protests at the jail where he was held during the summer. In late July, Rodriguez was not allowed to be with his wife as she gave birth to a son because he was detained.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.