by Adam Delezenne
This Spring, we were contacted by a social worker who knew our Pontiac clinic. She shared with us the story of Mayra, a 30-year-old mother of five children from Honduras who had been taken into ICE custody. The family, who has lived in Pontiac for 12 years, did not know her location and her husband (also an undocumented immigrant) was afraid that he would be taken into custody as well. We made some inquiries and found that Mayra was being held at the Calhoun County Jail in Battle Creek. We accepted her as a client and started working
SWIRC filed to be her attorney so that we would be kept abreast of developments in her case. We learned that ICE had arrested Mayra, where she worked as a house cleaner in Birmingham. ICE had been given an anonymous tip about another undocumented person who worked at that house. When they met Mayra instead and discovered her immigration status, they arrested her.
Next, we worked with Mayra’s husband to pull together evidence to show that she qualified for relief from deportation and release from detention. Since Mayra had lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years and had U.S. citizen children, she is permitted to request Cancellation of Removal from an Immigration Judge
Then, we prepared a bond motion to secure her release. We told the family that it could take up to two weeks for the motion to be heard and that they should be prepared to pay between $4,000 – $8,000 as a cash bond. We talked with ICE officers as well, impressing upon them that Mayra was desperately needed at home, that she had no criminal record, and that she had a strong case for Cancellation of Removal
We were stunned when on Mayra’s fourth day in custody, she was told that she was being released from jail and transported that day back to Pontiac. We all were shocked that without making an argument to an Immigration Judge or posting a cash bond, she was released. Maybe the jail was overcrowded that day. Or, perhaps our attorney’s pleas reached a receptive ear. Whatever the reason, Mayra was free.
SWIRC continues to work with Mayra and her family to file the necessary paperwork for her case. We expect that she will soon receive an Employment Authorization Document, allowing her to work legally while her case is pending
Our clients are people with families, doing their best to make ends meet. People like Mayra have no desire to work in the underground economy, continually at risk of run-ins with the law or those who might turn them in. Mayra might not have made all the best decisions or been born into the best circumstances, but she is not a criminal. Most people like Mayra are afraid to ask for help for fear that it might get them detained. We are here to help.
The Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center provides free and low-cost legal services to those who need them most in the Detroit area, with a focus on recent immigrants and refugees.
We were founded in 2014 by Kevin Piecuch, our Executive Director