DAVENPORT — As her father sat shackled in a courtroom chair, 2-year-old Frida played with a gold-colored rosary, climbing over the lap of her mother, who was quietly weeping.
That was the scene Monday morning in Davenport’s U.S. District Court, as Ricardo Macias Saucedo, one of 32 men arrested May 9 during an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in Mount Pleasant, appeared before a judge to see if he could be released from custody pending resolution of his criminal case.
Saucedo is being held on a felony charge of illegally re-entering the United States in 2010 after court-ordered deportation in 2008, according to testimony Monday by Jonathan Kovach, deportation officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
One of the points made in Saucedo’s hearing Monday is that he worked for MPC Enterprises in Mount Pleasant both before his deportation in 2008 and after he came back into the country in 2010. The documents he used to apply for employment “were never recovered,” Kovach said.
Asked if MPC would have known of Saucedo’s illegal status, Kovach replied that “that is part of an ongoing criminal investigation.”
MPC Enterprises makes concrete beams, pillars, wall panels and stairs.
WAITING FOR RULING
Saucedo’s attorney, Murray W. Bell of Bettendorf, argued Saucedo should be released on his own recognizance. He is not a flight risk because even though he “may eventually face separation, that doesn’t mean he’s going to abscond,” Bell argued. “He wants to spend as much quality time with his family as he can.”
About a dozen people mobilized by the Catholic Diocese of Davenport were in the courtroom to show support for Saucedo and the others and to show the courts people are watching what happens, said Kent Ferris, director of social action for the diocese.
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At the close of the hearing, Judge Steven Jackson said he would take the matter under advisement, issuing a written order at a later date. For now, Saucedo will remain in jail.
Five of those arrested in the raid, including Saucedo, have appeared in Davenport federal court — on Friday and Monday — because the charges against them are criminal, not simply civil, explained Tammy Shull, chairwoman of IowaWINS, a refugee assistance group based at First Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant.
The civil cases are being heard in immigration court in Omaha, the Rev. Trey Hegar, the church’s pastor, said.
LEARNING THE LAW
In Saucedo’s case, his wife, Yesica Renza, has a job so the family has some income. She works at a plastics company and describes herself as “DACA,” one of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children and who were, until recently, protected from deportation.
Others arrested in Mount Pleasant are their family’s sole wage earners. IowaWINS is raising money to help families with rent and utilities and it operates a food pantry at the church.
Of the 32 arrested, one is from Honduras, two from El Salvador, 22 from Guatemala and seven from Mexico.
Hegar said he knew little about immigration proceedings until two months ago.
Now he has learned that with civil immigration violations, a person can be held 30 days without charges, without an attorney, without a trial. “And even after 30 days, it doesn’t always happen,” he said.
People with no friends or family to advocate for them can languish indefinitely, he said.
Here is an accounting of what has happened to the 32 men arrested in the May 9 raid in Mount Pleasant, according to Tammy Shull, of IowaWINS, a refugee support group that has been keeping close tabs on the proceedings.
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• 5 have appeared in Davenport because they have criminal charges against them. All those cases have been taken under advisement.
• 20 have bonded out of custody but will have further hearings down the road. No dates have been set. Cash bond has ranged from $3,000 to $10,000. In 10 cases, men were helped by the Eastern Iowa Bond Project. The hearings were in immigration court in Omaha.
• 3 have been voluntarily deported.
• 4 are pending.