William and Roberto Isaías. William and Roberto Isaías. Photos: Wikimedia

Two Ecuadorian expatriates who’d been slated for deportation were released from Krome Detention Center after posting a $1 million bond on Friday.

William and Roberto Isaías were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Feb. 13 for being “unlawfully present” in the country, according to ICE representative Nestor Yglesias. Following their apprehension, the brothers filed an emergency habeas corpus petition in the Southern District of Florida on March 1.

On March 12, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams found the U.S. Department of Homeland Security could not detain the pair without giving them a bond hearing.

Miami attorney Michael Tein, who has represented the brothers for several years, said they were released following a hearing at Krome on Friday.

“I’m glad the brothers will be home for dinner with their grandchildren,” said Tein, who had called the threat of deportation “a massive violation of their constitutional rights.”

Coral Gables immigration attorney Ira Kurzban served as Tein’s co-counsel and shared his sentiments.

“We are delighted that Judge Williams entered an order requiring the bond hearing and that the government quickly complied,” he said. “We’re obviously happy that the clients are out of detention.”

Yglesias said ICE cannot comment further on this case, and deferred to the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. When asked for comment, the EOIR said, “We don’t have any remarks on the judge’s decision.”


Read Judge Williams’ order: 


The Isaías’ release from custody marks the latest chapter in a long-running legal odyssey that’s spanned Miami and Ecuador. They moved to Miami in 2003 after being implicated by the Ecuadorian government in the collapse of one of the country’s largest financial institutions, Filanbanco. The brothers, who had served in executive roles with the bank, were accused by the government of stealing money from the financial institution and hastening its demise.

The brothers have been consistently locked in legal battles since 2009, when Ecuador filed a complaint in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleging they embezzled $661 million from Filanbanco. The case has been languishing in the ensuing decade, as courts debated the place of decrees from foreign governments in the American legal system. In December 2017 the Third DCA reversed and remanded Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John Thornton’s dismissal of Ecuador’s suit.

Tein has been joined by other attorneys in calling the Third DCA’s order a violation of the Isaías’ due process protections. An Ecuadorean court found the brothers guilty and sentenced them to eight years of imprisonment in 2012.

“Everyone who actually reads Ecuador’s evidence immediately gets that this was a sham show trial [and] in absentia conviction for a crime against the state by a cold-war-style dictatorship,” the attorney said.

Freddy Balsera, the Isaías brothers’ personal spokesman, did not return requests for comment by press time.

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