UPDATE: Immigration Court holds male bond hearings from ICE Raid
By Kevin Milliken, La
July 31, 2018: More than seven weeks after Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Corso’s Lawn
and Garden Center in Sandusky and Castalia,
Ohio, the men detained from that raid had their first bond
hearings in immigration court.
Those male migrant farmworkers have been held at the
privately-owned Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, a
private prison near Youngstown that ICE has been using for
detentions since 2016. During bond hearings held Thursday, the
men remained at the prison and spoke with a Cleveland
immigration judge over a video call, while a Spanish interpreter
in the courtroom translated.
The judge granted bond to several of the men, despite the
argument of federal government attorneys that they were in the
country “unlawfully.” The men’s bonds ranged from $6,500 to
$12,000, a sum much higher than a Detroit judge issued as bond
for female migrant farmworkers, who had hearings earlier this
month. Their bonds ranged from $1,500 to $7,500, the lower
amount if they had U.S.-born citizen children.
According to public radio station WCPN, none of the seven
men arrested at Corso’s, whose bond hearings were open to the
public, had a criminal record. One hearing was closed at his
attorney’s request. The two men who received the lowest bonds
had spouses and U.S. citizen children and had been in the U.S.
since 2002 and 2006.
One man had overstayed a visa, while others had been stateside
for three years, a decade and more than a dozen years. Some had
siblings, nieces and nephews in the U.S., while a couple had no
blood relatives here. Attorneys representing the men gave the
judge letters of support from the community. If they can come up
with the money, the men will be free while their cases move
released to see their families who live in the Willard,
Norwalk, and Sandusky areas.
The immigration judge granted everyone bond who had a hearing
Thursday, July 19, 2018. As he tried to
establish whether each detainee would show up for court again if
released, the judge asked if they had relatives here and where
they would live while out on bond. A Department of Homeland
Security attorney often asked that bond be denied on the grounds
that respondents might not show up for future court hearings,
also pointing out the contention they had used false documents
Latino advocacy group HOLA Ohio has staged volunteers
waiting to post their bond from a $50,000 fund formed mainly
from donations by ACLU Ohio members. Volunteers also are standby
to drive the undocumented immigrants back to their northern Ohio
homes. That same network already has paid the bonds of nine
female migrant farm workers who were transported back to their
U.S. citizen children earlier this month.
But that bond fund will only go so far. Immigration attorneys
also report a heavy backlog of cases in Cleveland, especially
since a second ICE raid last month netted some 200-plus
Guatemalan meat-packing workers at Fresh Mark, a
processing plant in Salem, Ohio. Dozens more remain in federal
detention awaiting deportation from the Corso's raids
that netted more than 100 arrests. About 90 of those people were
detained in federal lock-ups. The detainees now are spread
across federal detention centers in Ohio and Michigan.
“There's not enough judges and there's just
not enough resources to process these people,” said Jason
Lorenzen, a Cleveland immigration attorney representing some
of the northern Ohio detainees in a recent interview with
17-year old Jimmy Rodríguez was working alongside his
father at Corso’s the day of the ICE raid. But that summer job
quickly became the family’s only source of income when his
father was detained. Rodríguez is trying to work as many hours
as he can while holding
onto his college savings hoping to bail his father out one day
The raid occurred just two days after his proud father watched
Rodríguez walk across the stage at his high school graduation.
“My mom told me he just could not stop smiling,” said the teen
in an interview with WEWS-TV. “When they called my name
and I got up to get my diploma, she said he was crying, happy
that he was seeing to see his son finally finishing high
Rodríguez and his father were just 30 minutes into their shift
at Corso’s when federal agents swarmed the Sandusky business.
“As soon as we walked out of the front, I saw a car pull up on
the gravel and a guy comes out with an assault rifle and says to
get on the ground,” Rodríguez recalled. “I knew it was over. I
knew what was happening.”
Rodríguez was later released as a DACA recipient.
His father has remained in ICE custody ever since, hard for his
son to believe considering his father faces a federal civil
violation, not a criminal case. Rodríguez now provides for his
mother and two younger brothers, ages 10 and 7.
“You’re treated like any other prisoner,” said immigration
attorney Brian DiFranco, who represents several Corso’s
clients. “You’re still wearing a prison uniform, you’re still
sleeping in a prison system. We’re charging people under a civil
jurisdiction, but they’re able to be held sometimes
Federal authorities admit there are 9,000 immigration cases
pending in the Cleveland area out of an estimated 750,000 such
cases nationwide. DiFranco told WEWS-TV many of the
detainees would be lucky to have a case outcome “by 2020 or
2021” because of such a big case backlog.