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Families Plea to Have Undocumented Relatives Detained by ICE Released

Source: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Suspect in cuffs (generic)
Associated Press
 Suspect in cuffs (generic)

SAN FRANCISCO Family members of some undocumented immigrants in the Bay Area say budget cuts in Washington briefly gave their loved ones their freedom only for them to be detained again a few weeks later.

KTVU heard the families' plea for the government to reconsider.

They said it's been hard for everyone.

Grandmothers Inez Maria Rangel and Bertha Mejia Espinoza, as well as father of three, Omar Salas, are all undocumented immigrants

But even by the government's own guidelines their families say they should not be locked up

When asked if the family members are a threat to the community, they shouted, "No," then laughed.

In February, Salas and Rangel were among 2,200 detainees released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to sequester-related budget cuts.

Daughter Adela Lemus got choked up, "I'm sorry, it was very, very emotional for us because our kids wanted to see their grandma."

Not long after some members of congress objected, immigration officials took Rangel, Salas and others back into custody.

"It almost felt like a dream and waking up and it's over.  That's how it felt like," said Candelaria Salas. "It's political."

Attorney Rhoda Wilkinson Domingo says her clients don't have a violent criminal history and are not flight risks -- the two criteria for releasing detainees according to a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, grandmother Bertha Mejia Espinoza, who once fled civil war in El Salvador, has been in ice custody for 19 months, prompted by an arrest for shoplifting food.

"The judge decided she poses a danger to the community and that she's a flight risk, said attorney Rosy Cho.    

The next chance at freedom comes Friday for the father of three Omar Salas. He plans to ask a judge in San Francisco to release him on bond.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement told KTVU they couldn't give specific details on these particular cases.

They did provide statement that reads: "Twenty-eight of the detainees released for budget reasons have been brought back into ICE custody after either violating the terms of their supervision or after the agency discovered information not available during an initial review of their case."

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