Judge orders release of undocumented construction worker detained by ICE
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Hugo Mejia left his San Rafael home for work on May 3 and didn't come back. On Tuesday, an immigration judge ordered his release. He is undocumented and was detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) six months ago.
Mejia's supporters are currently working to post his bond after the judge's release order. He could be released as soon as today, according to California Immigrant Policy Center, an immigrants' rights organization that has an office in Oakland.
The well-regarded family man, a married 37-year-old who has three young children, showed up for work on a construction project at Travis Air Force Base.
"We are overjoyed that Hugo, his wife, and their three children will be reunited in time for Thanksgiving," read a collective statement released by several supportive organizations including; California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Centro Legal de la Raza, The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), IUPAT District Council 16, and the California Immigrant Policy Center.
Mejia had been employed as a drywall foreman and had worked several years for S & R Drywall in South San Francisco. Steve Rossa, the owner of that company described how Mejia and his co-workers work "24-7, weekends and nights" for him and was one of his best employees.
Mejia's two eldest children have been granted DACA status and his youngest is a U.S. citizen. He had been a volunteer at Venetia Valley Elementary School, which his children attended, according to a news release announcing the judge's decision.
At the time of his detention, the family's attorney feared Mejia would be deported in an expedited fashion, with no hearing, because there is a removal order on the books from many years ago, when he was caught crossing the border from Mexico.
"ICE should use its discretion, and look at the circumstance before re-using a deportation order, that's more than a decade old," said Alisa Whitfield of Centro Legal de la Raza, based in Oakland.
ICE had issued a statement in which two workers who were detained in the Travis Air Force Base incident as "foreign nationals attempting to gain entry to the military base."
It notes Mejia had been previously deported in 2001.