SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Mexican woman from Santa Rosa who has been in immigration detention for nearly 15 months was granted release on a $25,000 bond by a U.S. immigration judge in San Francisco Thursday, according to her lawyer.
Attorney Luis Reyes Savalza said he expected Yazmin Elias Obregon, 34, to be released from the Contra Costa County West County Detention Center at about 6 p.m. Thursday.
The bond was granted by Immigration Judge Scott Simpson Thursday morning and an anonymous donor offered to put up the $25,000, he said.
“It’s kind of a miracle,” said Blanca Vazquez, a leader of a campaign to free Elias.
Elias came to Santa Rosa from Mexico at the age of 4 and is the mother of three teenagers who are U.S. citizens.
She is currently facing deportation proceedings and the bond will be in effect until the proceedings are completed. Savalza said the date of her deportation hearing has not been set.
Elias was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Feb. 26, 2016, after a state court probation hearing related to a citation she received for driving under the influence in 2015.
Although state court judges in the DUI criminal case had said she could remain free on probation while continuing rehabilitation for addictions related to abuse by two former boyfriends, Simpson denied release on bond at immigration hearings last year.
He said the reason was that her three DUI convictions and four citations for driving without a license showed that she was a danger to the community.
Elias’s lawyers say she has recovered from alcoholism and methamphetamine addictions that were responses to severe domestic abuse. Her 2015 DUI citation came after she tried to park a double-parked car that had been driven by her current boyfriend, who had stepped out of the car to buy tacos, they say.
This year, Elias filed a habeas corpus lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco to challenge her continued detention.
In an April 20 ruling, U.S. District Judge William Orrick declined to grant a temporary restraining order requiring her release, but ordered a new bond hearing in immigration court.
Orrick said in that ruling Elias should be given a chance to argue that she was successfully rehabilitated, was no longer at risk for addiction because she was not in an abusive relationship and was not a danger to the public.
“Deprivation of liberty should be a rare circumstance for non-citizens in immigration detention, reserved only for those who are a threat to national security or poor bail risks,” Orrick wrote.
Salvaza said he believes that decision gave “important guidance” to the immigration judge.
Thursday’s outcome “is bittersweet, but it’s a huge victory,” he said.
The attorney said he thinks Elias has a good chance of winning her fight against deportation. He said she is seeking asylum on the ground that the father of her children, who has returned to Mexico, has threatened her. Elias also has a possible path to citizenship through a program for victims of domestic abuse, he said.
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