MOUNT PLEASANT — After being picked up in an immigration raid and jailed over a month, Elmer Urizar will be released from detention and reunited with his teenage son, who was left after the bust without a parent and turned to the community for help.
Magistrate Judge Stephen Jackson issued a ruling Tuesday that while Urizar posed a flight risk, steps could be taken to secure him outside jail while the case against him proceeds.
Urizar, 35, also referred to as Uriza, is one of the 32 men arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities after a May 9 raid on concrete plant MPC Midwest Inc. Three of the men have been deported, six are detained and 23 have been released for now.
The judge presiding over this case cited Urizar’s ties to the Mount Pleasant area as an incentive for him to stay in the community upon release. The judge wrote that Urizar’s foundation in the community is demonstrated in the “impressive letters of support” written on his behalf. The references were written by community leaders such as Trey Hegar, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant; David Suarez, bilingual community development manager at Community Credit Union; and many of son Wilfred’s teachers and coaches.
“That support came because they are great people and the teachers and community who know them see that they are a great family trying to make the best for themselves,” said Tracy Shull, with Iowa Welcomes Immigrant Neighbors. “It’s a real blessing he is being released. I am so happy for Wilfred that his dad is going to be with him. That is very good news.”
People in the community, including Kay Young, whom Wilfred has been staying with since June 9, are being vetted to act as third party custodians for Urizar upon his release. The custodian must be a non-relative who will communicate with a probation officer.
According to documents, the court was considering releasing Urizar to the home of Sandy Carrillo, who also may have taken in Wilfred at some point.
Urizar’s release also is contingent on GPS electronic monitoring and home detention.
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Urizar was being held on criminal charges as a second-time offender. He first was ordered removed from the United States on Jan. 18, 2014, by an immigration official in Texas. He was removed Jan. 22, 2014, and did not submit a request to re-enter, although he did return later.
Urizar has no other criminal record. the judge noted.
Wilfred, 15, currently is seeking asylum in the United States from gang violence he experienced in his home country of Guatemala. Urizar brought Wilfred here to escape that violence, but could afford to process only one application at a time for asylum — so the father waited.
The two have been living in Mount Pleasant for the past four years. Wilfred’s mother remains in Guatemala.
The court noted the significant community support at Urizar’s hearing, with many friends, family and community members in the room.
“We still have other families that are separated,” Shull said in the midst of celebrating the news of Urizar’s release. “We’ve got some focus and attention that still needs to be on them because we have children without their fathers and we want to continue to support them.”