On November 16th, 2017, immigration officers forcibly separated four asylum-seeking fathers from their young children, including one-year-old Mateo. The fathers—José Fuentes, Eric Matute, Carlos Batres, and Walter Ramirez—remain detained by ICE Otay Mesa Detention Center and are still suffering the trauma of government agents taking away their children. For two months now, they and thousands of their supporters who believe in family unity, demanded that they be released and immediately reunited with their children. In our work at Otay Mesa, we have identified another asylum seeking mother, "Maria", who has been separated from her minor children since September of 2017. All parents remain detained while their children are hundreds of miles away in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
We demand their immediate release and reunification.
Organizers at Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the legal team at Al Otro Lado, and an ever-growing network of supporters, including volunteer attorneys, UCLA, and University of Southern California, recently submitted humanitarian parole applications on behalf of José, Carlos, Walter, and Maria. The applications clearly demonstrate that they pose neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk, and that it is not in the public interest to prolong their detention or continued separation from their children. Family, friends, and community organizations wrote letters of support, demonstrating that each of the fathers will have help navigating their new homes and the legal process. So far, ICE has only responded to one father’s request for release - Walter Ramirez. ICE did not take into consideration the evidence provided by his family or legal advocates, and conditioned his release on the payment of a $10,000 bond. ICE also set a $10,000 bond for Maria, a mother with no criminal or immigration history. This determination by ICE clearly fails to respect Walter and Maria's ability to pay and the standards by which even the US government measures the necessity to incarcerate immigrants.
An immigration judge in Otay Mesa agrees that continued separation of these fathers from their children is not in the public interest when she granted Eric a $3,500 bond on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Because Jose Demar Fuentes and Carlos Batres are not eligible for a bond hearing before an immigration judge, we anticipate that their bond amounts will be in the $10,000 range. All parents must also pay for air and ground transportation to travel from Otay Mesa to their sponsors upon release, and several anticipate having to pay for their children's transportation from ORR custody as well.
, an , and people have already voiced clearly that asylum seeking parents should never be separated from their children in the first place. We are counting on your support to ensure that they can be reunited as quickly as possible!
All money raised will go toward paying bond for parents who have been separated from their children, plus any reunification-related expenses. Any money leftover will be used to help other immigrants be released from detention.