An immigration judge granted a Guatemalan immigrant—who has been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention for nearly two years—a $25,000 bond Friday during a court hearing ordered by a federal magistrate last month.
Raul Lopez, 46, who has lived in the U.S. for 29 years, was initially detained by immigration agents in March 2017.
Last month, U.S. Magistrate Sallie Kim ruled that lawyers for Raul Lopez showed that Lopez had created significant changes in his situation by becoming rehabilitated from alcoholism since his last bond hearing in September 2017. At his initial bond hearing, an immigration judge determined he was a danger to the public and denied release because of his record of three misdemeanor DUI convictions between 2010 and 2016.
During Friday’s hearing in front of Immigration Judge Joseph Park, Lopez appeared via telephone conference, his attorney Frances Kreimer said.
“We’re very relieved,” she said. “I think Mr. Lopez’s experience has highlighted a lot of the injustices of this administration… We’ve seen the government refuse to give him a bond hearing—it took a federal magistrate.”
Lopez’s family and supporters had sought his release, with his daughter throwing her Quinceanera, or 15th birthday party, outside the West County Detention Center in Richmond, where he was being held. In September 2018, Lopez was moved to a detention facility in Aurora, Colo. after the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office terminated its contract with ICE to house its detainees.
“We really see this as a testament to the power of the community to support this family,” Kreimer said of Friday’s outcome.
The government has 30 days to appeal the decision, she said. According to Juan Prieto with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Raul’s wife Dianeth Lopez is grateful that she and their two children will be reunited with him.
The CIYJA will be helping raise money for the bond. Donations can be made at www.bit.ly/reunitebayfams, Prieto said.