Local News

Fort Bragg Army chaplain and husband released by ICE vow to continue immigration reform fight

Posted May 15, 2018 5:02 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:13 a.m. EDT

— Fort Bragg Army chaplain Tim Brown and his husband, Sergio Avila, pledged Tuesday to continue fighting for immigration reform after Avila's detainment in Charlotte last week and release Tuesday.

Avila was released from the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia and is not rcurrently facing deportation, according to an ICE spokesperson.

"Thank you. We are overwhelmed with the support and coverage we have received, and because of these efforts Sergio is coming home. There is still a long way to go for Sergio. Furthermore there are countless others who are also in need of our help, of your help. While this is a huge victory, it is only the beginning for Sergio and others like him," Brown said in a release.

The couple and their attorney held a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Raleigh, where they thanked people who helped in Avila’s release.

Avila is from Honduras and came to the United States with his uncle when he was 7 years old. Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement say Avila was a fugitive and convicted criminal immigrant.

Brown announced Sunday the Operation Save Sergio Mission. He said he will not stop fighting until there is a path to citizenship for his husband and other immigrants.

Brown and Avila married in January 2017 and obtained a marriage waiver in April. They were reporting to a supervision hearing on Thursday in Charlotte when Avila was detained by ICE agents, the same week as Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

Brown said ICE agents had been showing up more frequently to hearings, but he never imagined they were looking for his husband.

“This is about Sergio and saving him and getting home, but this is also bigger than that. We need change and golly we say that so much, we need more than change. We need to not shut up until people hear what we say,” Brown said before Avila was released.

Although Avila is in the United States unlawfully, Brown said it’s the only home he’s ever known and they’ve been working toward citizenship for the past several years.

ICE officials said in a statement that Avila was detained because of his status as an immigration fugitive and convicted criminal immigrant.

According to Patrick Hatch, an attorney representing Avila and Brown, a removal order was issued in Texas for Avila in 2002 after he did not show up to a court hearing. Hatch on Friday filed a motion to reopen that removal order based on lack of notice of the hearing in 2002 and on Avila's fear of returning to Honduras as a gay man married to a U.S. Special Forces Officer.