Of the 32 men arrested in May during a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in Mount Pleasant, 24 have been released on bond and are back with their families, but they can’t work because they don’t have permits.
Heading into winter, there’s a particular need among the families for money to pay rent and heating bills, said Tammy Schull, chair of IowaWINs, a refugee and immigrant assistance group based in Mount Pleasant.
“The women are trying to find second jobs and doing what they can, but the closest hearing for a work permit is in May,” she said. “It’s a really long process. And you have to have $500 to apply.”
To raise money to help, Ken Croken, candidate for Scott County Supervisor, and his wife, Kathryn, are sponsoring a fundraiser on Friday at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport.
“Irrespective of your feelings about the legality of the issues, they (the families) are not aliens, they are humans, and their hardship is unacceptable to people of goodwill,” Croken said.
“For that reason, I felt the need to so something. As the weather has deteriorated, my concern for their safety over the coming months compels action.”
Money raised will go to IowaWINs. About $200,000 has been donated to the organization in the nearly six months since the raid, but that amount is nearly spent, Schull said.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Some money raised will be set aside to help with legal fees, she said. In addition to the $500 required to apply for a work permit, a lawyer must complete the paperwork for the permit application, she said.
The men were working at a concrete plant at the time of their arrests.
While waiting for hearings on their work permits, the men also are waiting for immigration hearings to determine their status. Those hearings are in Omaha, with the earliest date expected in February and continuing through October 2019, Schull said.
Another surprise to IowaWINs was learning that the men couldn’t “self deport” — that is, go back to their homeland and work there — because doing so would forfeit the bond they posted to get out of jail, and they would never qualify for the papers needed to come back to the United States to visit their families, Schull said.
“It’s a terrible Catch-22,” she said.
The bonds averaged around $5,000 in cash each, she said. Some were as high as $10,000, while others were reduced to $1,500 to $7,500.
Families pooled their money to pay and also received help through the nonprofit Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project, based in Iowa City.
Status of those arrested
Of the 32 men arrested in the May 9 ICE raid in Mount Pleasant, five appeared in U.S. Federal Court in Davenport facing criminal charges, not civil, because of previous arrests.
Here is their current status:
• Elmer Urizar Lopez, of Guatemala, has been deported to Guatemala. According to court documents, this apparently happened in early August, but Sept. 17 was the first time Lopez’s attorney was able to reach him.
Urizar Lopez is the sole supporter of a teenage son who is attending school in Mount Pleasant and staying with a member of the church. Urizar Lopez has said he originally fled Guatemala for the U.S. because he feared for his son’s safety.
• Oscar Romeo Mota Rivera, of Guatemala, is in Muscatine County Jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty July 26 to illegal re-entry and fraud/misuse of documents.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!
You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.
• Reinaldo Garcia Munoz, of Mexico, has been deported to Mexico. He has a wife and two children who are making plans to return to Mexico, Schull said.
• Ricardo Macias Saucedo, of Mexico, is being held in Muscatine County Jail with a jury trial scheduled for Oct. 29. His wife is in the country under the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, and the couple have two young children. She is staying in Mount Pleasant in hopes that her husband will be allowed to stay as well, Schull said.
• Elmer Joel Espinal, of Honduras, is being held in Muscatine County Jail, awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty Sept. 28 to unlawful re-entry. His wife and two children expect to remain in Mount Pleasant as long as his case still is in the legal system, Schull said.
Of the other 27 men arrested, three have been deported, and the remaining 24 have been released on bond and are awaiting immigration hearings to determine their status, Schull said.