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Weeks After Corso's Raid, Immigration Court Holds Bond Hearings

A judge Thursday morning granted bond to several of the men arrested by immigration agents six weeks ago at Corso’s garden center.

The government accused them of being in the country unlawfully. The men’s bonds ranged from $6,500 to $12,000. If they can come up with the money, the men will be free while their cases move forward.

Where are they being held?

The men are at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, a private prison in Youngstown that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been using for detentions since 2016.

They weren’t physically in the Cleveland courtroom Thursday morning. From jail, they spoke with Judge David C. Whipple over a video call, while a Spanish interpreter in the courtroom translated.

Video connection problems with the jail delayed the hearing for a brief time, and the feed cut out once during the morning session.

What did we learn about the men and their lives in the United States?

Of seven men arrested at Corso’s whose bond hearings were open to the public, none had prior criminal records. (Another hearing was closed at his attorney’s request.)

The two men who received the lowest bonds had spouses and U.S. citizen children. They had been in the country since 2002 and 2006.

One man came to the U.S. this year and overstayed a visa. Others had been in the country for three years, a decade and more than a dozen years. Some had siblings, nieces and nephews in the country, while others had no blood relatives here.

Attorneys for the men presented the judge with letters of support from the community.

How important were family or community ties for the judge’s bond decisions?

Very important. The judge was trying to establish whether each detainee would show up for court again if released. He asked if they had relatives here and where they would live while out on bond.

The attorney for the Department of Homeland Security often asked the judge to deny bond on the grounds that respondents might not show up to court. The attorney mentioned the government’s contention that they had used false documents for work.

Judge Whipple didn’t deny anyone bond in the cases observed Thursday morning.

How are they going to pay these bonds?

HOLA, an Ohio advocacy group for immigrants, is helping to raise money. The group’s director, Veronica Dahlberg, said paying the bonds will put the local Latino community under greater financial strain.

What’s next?

Immigration agents arrested more than 100 people at Corso’s, detaining about 90 of them. It’s unclear how many people have had their bond hearings so far.

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