Gay asylum seeker freed from ICE detention

OTAY MESA - A young gay man who became the focus of a nationwide campaign is speaking out after being released from a detention center in Otay Mesa.

In a video posted on YouTube, Yordy Cancino, 21, shares an emotional kiss and hug with his mother.

Cancino was released after raising a $7,500 bond after three months inside the detention center.

"When I saw my mother, there was adrenaline and a lot of emotion. I'm just super happy," said Cancino.

A now-optimistic Cancino tells us he was brought to the United States at age 6. He started the first gay-straight alliance at his high school in Los Angeles, graduated second in his class and got accepted to UCLA, but couldn't afford it.

"I was depressed. There were days I couldn't eat. There were days I just cried," said Cancino.

He traveled to Mexico City to go to school, but says as a more effeminate gay man, he was harassed, beaten up twice, and threatened with kidnapping and death during his two years there.

"I thought I would be welcomed. It became a nightmare," said Cancino.

In March, he and a small group of gay youth appeared at the border, seeking asylum.         

Cancino's claim to begin the asylum process was rejected.

Recently, Homeland Security officials made the rules tougher for those seeking asylum, with asylum requests jumping from 5,000 to 36,000 in the last five years.

A nationwide social media campaign supporting Yordy was launched. In April, Mario Vasquez, the vice-chair of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network's board of directors, delivered a petition he created in support of Yordy and all LGBTQ immigrant youth, with over 3,000 signatures from GSA and immigrant activists across the country to the White House and ICE headquarters. Several groups worked together for Yordy's release through the #BringThemHome campaign, including Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the National Queer and Trans Latin@ Alliance, the Immigrant Youth Coalition, the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, and SMYAL - DC Regional GSA Network.

Amid the social media campaign there was a motion to reconsider the initial asylum interview. This time, he brought an attorney, and his request was granted.

Cancino can stay in the U.S. while the formal asylum application is reviewed.

His attorney, Nanya Thompson, worries for others seeking asylum. Many of them don't have attorneys to present their cases -- now subject to more rigorous criteria.

"Many don't know about the new rules. Many are traumatized and reluctant to share about their trauma. People with really good asylum claims will be denied opportunity to apply," said Thompson.

Cancino's attorney says Cancino likely won't get a final answer on his asylum application for at least a year.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials declined comment.

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