When local jazz-pop-indie-rock-awesome band Eldren played the Westword Music Showcase last weekend, one member was missing, and the local music community continued to comment on the absence throughout the day. On June 4, violinist-guitarist-vocalist Josh Lee was detained by Immigrations Customs and Enforcement. For more than two weeks, Lee has remained inside ICE's Aurora detention facility while he awaits a development on his immigration status after a deferred judgment sprouted red tape and red flags around his relationship to national security. As he, his family, his bandmates and his peers on the soundscape wait for news, the local music community has rallied behind him with "Free Josh Lee" T-shirts, a Change.org petition for his release and a benefit concert to pay for his legal fees. In addition to his full-time role in Eldren, Lee has played guest spots with Caleb Slade, Take to the Oars, My Body Sings Electric, Sarah Slaton, Petals of Spain and Valedictorian, not that the list ends there. On Friday, June 29 at 9 p.m., local acts Eldren, In the Whale, Caleb Slade and the Epilogues will add their donated time to the Gothic Theatre's donated space for a concert to benefit Lee.
"As soon as we found out, we were all shocked and surprised -- particularly because it's Josh," says Jason Hoke, drummer of the Epilogues. "He's such a kind, unassuming guy, and it's maddening to think he could be targeted as a threat to national security based on a technicality. A lot of us in the community stepped up as soon as we found out to do whatever small things we can to dig him out of those crazy legal fees -- or, if the worst case happens and he's deported, give him some money of his own so that he's sent out with love and support."
Lee came to the United States at age eleven when his father, a pastor, moved the Lee family to Denver to launch a grassroots Korean Christian church in Centennial. In the intervening years, the Lees have applied for residency twice and been denied the request twice. During this time, they lived in a relative grey area, awaiting the result of their second appeal until Josh Lee's own status grew murkier when he accepted a deferred judgment on a class-six felony charge earlier in the month.
We will continue to update this story as we learn more.
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