Jose Gonzalez Ochoa, a Shaw High School grad detained at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., could be released from the facility.
At a Monday morning hearing, Immigration Judge Dan Trimble set a $3,000 bond for the undocumented immigrant, who has been detained at the center since mid-April. The decision was made after Ochoa’s attorney, Britt Thames, presented Trimble with a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stating that Ochoa is eligible for a U-visa reserved for victims of domestic violence.
“The bond, once that is paid, Jose will still continue immigration proceedings,” said Thames in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer. “But he will not be on a detained docket. He will be on the non-detained docket, and his case will be changed to the immigration court in Atlanta. That will take a couple of months before he’s put back on the calendar, and then we will pursue any form of relief from there to see if we can either get his case closed or get him some kind of immigration relief granted by the court.”
Ochoa’s girlfriend, Marta Lopez, said she and Jose are ecstatic about the judge’s decision. Lopez said she plans to pay the bond Tuesday and Jose could be released that night.
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“The judge was like, I’m going to put the bond at $3,000, and I was like, ‘Yay! Thank you so much,’” she said. “I started crying and Jose was so happy. He was smiling.”
Ochoa, 20, entered the country illegally with his father when he was 13 years old. A Harris County sheriff’s deputy stopped him on Easter for going over the speed limit. When he couldn’t produce any paperwork, he was taken to the Hamilton jail and then picked up two days later by ICE agents.
On May 15, Trimble denied Ochoa’s bond request, stating that he needed certification from USCIS for the U visa.
Thames says Ochoa is eligible for a U visa due to physical abuse inflicted by his father, Jose Gonzalez Sr.
David Ranieri, Muscogee County senior assistant solicitor general, said his office has a pending case against the father, stemming from an incident on Sept. 27, 2016. He said the father, who has since been deported, was charged with simple battery, physical harm and family violence after allegedly “pushing and punching” his son. He has a court date scheduled for June 30. If he doesn’t show up, a warrant will be issued for his arrest.