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UPDATE: Immigration Court holds male bond hearings from ICE Raid

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent

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 forward, 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 for work.

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 cleveland.com.

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 soon.


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 school.”


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 indefinitely.”


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.


Copyright © 1989 to 2018 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/07/18 11:36:15 -0700.




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