2006 Florida DNA exoneree, Orlando Boquete, is currently fighting against deportation proceedings by the United States government. Orlando was convicted of rape in the early 1980s and was freed in 2006 after DNA testing proved he did not commit that crime. After his exoneration he was immediately detained by Homeland Security and imprisoned again in Krome detention facility awaiting deportation to Cuba because he had the audacity to escape from his wrongful incarceration. His lawyers struck a deal with the feds to allow him to remain in the country and defer a deportation decision.
Well, decision time is upon us and Orlando is getting some high-level help. Former US Attorney General, Janet Reno has penned a letter to Homeland Security in support of Orlando’s permanent residence. The Miami Herald reports that in her letter she states:
While no official action can give him back those years, allowing him to earn a living and rebuild his life in his adopted country as a permanent resident without facing continued uncertainty about the risk that he will be deported, is an important step.
Reno is right, especially because Orlando has been a law-abiding, productive member of the Florida Keys community since his release, volunteering on behalf of tornado relief victims in north Florida and volunteering at an in-patient guidance clinic. Sandy D’Alemberte, former President of the American Bar Association, also submitted a letter of support.
Hopefully, the deportation board will exercise some common sense and recognize that Orlando has a greater potential to continue to be positive asset in his community if they put him on the path to citizenship.
It is the least it can do for taking away the best years of his life for a crime he didn’t commit.