US immigration authorities in California asked an immigration court on Friday to reverse its decision to free fugitive Rebar founder Wang You-theng (
Wang was released from a Los Angeles immigration detention center on Aug. 7 after spending six months behind bars as US and Taiwanese authorities sought a way to legally deny his entry into the US and have him returned to Taiwan to face justice.
He was released after a Board of Immigration Appeal (BIA) judge ruled that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency had wrongly arrested him.
"We filed a motion to reconsider today," said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the ICE office in Los Angeles.
"We're asking the Board to reconsider its previous ruling and to assign a three-member panel to review the case. The appeal was filed this morning," she said.
"The basis of our filing was simply that we believe that the original immigration judge's finding that Wang was not an arriving alien and the board's ruling supporting that finding arose from a factual error and we've asked the board to seat a panel to reconsider the decision," Kice said.
Wang, who fled Taiwan through China last year and arrived in the US in January, was admitted on a valid Taiwan passport and US visa. After he arrived, however, Taiwan revoked his passport, invalidating his visa.
In early February, he attempted to leave the US, apparently to slip out of the grasp of the US and Taiwanese authorities pursuing his case. While trying to get to Myanmar, he was refused transit entry in Singapore at Taiwan's request and was put on the first plane back to Los Angeles, where he was arrested by ICE on his return as an illegal alien.
On Mar. 28, an immigration court judge ruled against the ICE, saying that Wang had never left the US since he had not been admitted to another country. On August 3, the Board upheld that ruling and Wang was released four days later.
"Our position is that he is, under law, an arriving alien and that's why we filed this motion," Kice said. "We believe that the original immigration judge and the original member of the BIA who reviewed this case and found that he was not an arriving alien, that their ruling is in error."
Pending the ICE motion to reconsider, Wang remained under close observation by the ICE to prevent him from fleeing again.
"We're continuing to monitor him while this legal process plays out," although he will remain free in the interim, Kice said.
She could not say how long it would take the board to assign the panel or for the panel to make its decision, but the ICE has asked for expedited proceedings.