About 20 supporters of a Richmond man who has been in immigration detention for nearly two years held a rally outside the Federal Building in San Francisco Monday to urge a U.S. magistrate to order a new release hearing for him.
Raul Lopez, 46, a Guatemalan immigrant who has lived in the United States for 29 years, is seeking asylum, a process that could take years in the immigration court system.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim is presiding over a habeas corpus lawsuit in which he is seeking her help in gaining release during that process. Lopez has asked for either an order for a new bond hearing before an immigration judge or a direct order for release.
“If he is not given a bond hearing, he could be held for years,” said Itzel Calvo, a deportation defense coordinator with California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.
An immigration judge denied Lopez release last fall on the ground he is a danger to the public because of three misdemeanor driving-under-the-influence convictions between 2010 and 2016.
Lopez’s lawyers contend the immigration judge failed to consider that Lopez has now completed an alcohol treatment program while in detention and has a plan for maintaining sobriety after release.
“Our position is that there are new circumstances, he is not dangerous and the government is not justified in his continued detention,” attorney Frances Kreimer said.
After holding a hearing on Dec. 21, Kim ordered the immigration judge to reconsider holding a bond hearing.
Kim wrote, “Based on the facts presented here, the court would find that the change in circumstances is material and would order another bond hearing.”
Last month, the immigration judge declined to hold a new bond hearing and Lopez’s lawyers renewed their request for an order from Kim. Kreimer said she did not know whether Kim will schedule a hearing before issuing a ruling on the request.
Lopez has been held in detention since March 22, 2017.
-Julia Cheever, Bay City News