A Honduran man who lost two of his limbs on the journey to seek asylum in the United States was deported Friday morning, after spending more than a year in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention without one of his prosthetic limbs. Thirty-six-year-old Victor Valladares Diaz was nearly deported without his prosthetic arm, the result of a railway injury sustained during his efforts to rejoin family in the United States, until the publication of a story in The Daily Beast detailing his case. “ICE returned Mr. Valladares Diaz to Honduras Friday morning,” an ICE official told The Daily Beast. “He was provided with a new prosthetic limb and a new wheelchair prior to his return.”
Peter McGraw, one of Valladares Diaz’s attorneys, told The Daily Beast that after being deprived of his prosthetics for so long—his prosthetic leg was taken for repair and not returned for nearly half a year—the replacements no longer fit his body. “The way he explains it, he thinks he might just need new prosthetics for them to function the way he did before,” McGraw said, noting that even the clothes Valladares Diaz was wearing when he was originally detained in December 2017 no longer fit. “Victor is going back to a country where he fears he’s going to be persecuted and tortured based on his disability, and I think the government… only hindered his ability to transition by depriving him of his prosthetics for so long.”
Matthew Hoppock, another attorney working on Valladares Diaz’s behalf, told The Daily Beast that while “getting his arm returned to him was huge,” and that ICE hadn’t expressed any intention to return the prosthetic before the publication of The Daily Beast’s report, he still plans to litigate his client’s appeal while Valladares Diaz navigates a new life in Honduras. “His focus needs to be on surviving until we can get an order that directs him to return to the United States,” Hoppock said.
– Scott Bixby