Venezuelan Activist Seeking Political Asylum Detained in Miami

A Venezuelan man living in South Florida after he fled his native country and is seeking political asylum was detained Wednesday.

Marco Coello was prepared to go in for his asylum interview when immigration officials showed up and arrested him because they say he overstayed his VISA. His family and attorney are demanding justice for Coello, who was known as a vocal protester in Venezuela.

"Today, what happened at the Miami asylum office was nothing less than a travesty of justice," said attorney Elizabeth Blandon.

Coello passionately resisted the Nicolas Maduro regime and was even arrested during a student march in 2014. Fearing for his rights, Coello fled Venezuela to avoid a prison sentence and took refuge in South Florida.

"He applied for asylum days after arriving in the United States in September 2015. Twice he asked the government please expedite my interview," Blandon said.

Coello was granted the interview Wednesday and that's when officers showed up and took him to the Krome Detention Center. Now, his family and his attorney are worried about his PTSD, due to the torture they say he endured at the hands of Venezuelan authorities.

"Marco Coello has a very delicate psychological state," said Blandon.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement Wednesday:

“Marco Coello has one misdemeanor criminal conviction and did not depart the country in accordance with his visa. As a result, he violated the terms of his nonimmigrant status in the United States. As Secretary Kelly has stated, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

Coello's father, Armando Coello said he is devastated about his son's ordeal.

"I never think to see this situation in this country," Coello's father said.

With the current tumultuous political situation and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Venezuela, Coello's family is concerned that he could be met with serious repercussions if he is sent back to his native country.

Sen. Marco Rubio weighed in on Coello's detainment Wednesday on Twitter. In his tweets, Rubio said he hoped the situation was a misunderstanding. 

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