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Berkeley Ecology Center Employee Freed by ICE

Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Wednesday August 19, 2015 - 03:56:00 PM

A Berkeley Ecology Center employee who had been detained by immigration authorities has been released because the agency has not been able to obtain travel documents from the Chinese government, officials said today.  

Daniel Maher, 41, has run the recycling program at Berkeley's Ecology Center for the past decade. 

He was detained by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in June for deportation in connection with felony kidnapping, robbery and firearms convictions dating back to the 1990s.  

Immigration officials had previously detained him in 2000 after he served his seven-year sentence but released him in 2001 after they were unable to obtain travel documents from the Chinese government for him.  

ICE officials said he was detained again this year after they were advised they might now be able to obtain a travel document for him.  

"As a convicted aggravated felon, Mr. Maher remains an enforcement priority based on his criminal history," ICE officials said in a statement. They said that his current release is under an order of supervision requiring him to report in to ICE periodically.  

Ecology Center officials and Berkeley community members have rallied in Maher's support, staging protests outside ICE's San Francisco Office and filing lawsuits challenging his detention. More than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for his release. 

Maher's attorney, Anoop Prasad of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus, said last week that Maher came from the Macau region of China to the United States as a toddler, and became a permanent U.S. resident in 1977.  

Maher grew up in the U.S. and when he was 20, he was arrested and convicted of felonies related to an armed robbery. He served seven years in prison followed by over a year in ICE custody, Prasad said. 

When he got out, he began working as a recycling sorter in Hayward and from there was hired as a manager at Ecology Center, where he was later promoted to director of recycling.