Despite community ties, judge cites flight risk in denying bond to some immigrants

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A judge denied bail Wednesday to a Carthage mother of three — a member of a local Baptist church and former employee of the Pearl River Foods processing plant — who was arrested during immigration enforcement raids in early August.

The Thad Cochran U.S. Courthouse in downtown Jackson

Her pretrial paperwork presented in court erroneously said she did not have any children, though her teenage son, a U.S. citizen, sat in the courtroom during her hearing. Defense attorney Tom Rich did not call witnesses.

Due to the discrepancy, U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson said she had insufficient evidence of the defendant’s ties to the community, a key factor in determining bail.

Anderson acknowledged that defense attorneys were unprepared for the hearing due to limited access to their clients, and offered to reconsider her decision once she receives additional information.

While a marshal ushered the mom, dressed in an orange Madison County Jail jumpsuit, out of the courtroom, she turned back to look at her son, her face red and wet with tears. The teenager sat in the front row, sniffling, as he wrote out a letter on notebook paper to give to the judge.

Pretrial paperwork for another detainee in court Wednesday listed her residency as the Louisiana correctional facility where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement houses detainees.

Anderson conducted some of the very first detention hearings for people detained in the central Mississippi chicken plant raids. She denied bail for each of them.

Those three defendants — charged with illegal reentry, carrying a maximum penalty of two years in prison — will remain in custody of the U.S. Marshal Service until their October trials. Anderson determined they pose a flight risk.

“It seems like he keeps coming back to Mississippi,” Rich said to argue that one of his clients, who has reentered the U.S. after being deported three times in the past, is not a flight risk. “He wants to be here.”

The Marshals Service contracts with Madison County Correctional Facility and privately owned Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility to house federal pretrial detainees. Had the criminal defendants been granted bail, they would likely not return home but back into the custody of ICE under an ICE detainer.

U.S. attorneys argued that based on their history disobeying federal orders, each of the three defendants could not be trusted to return to court for their criminal trials.

Agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security testified about the screening process that determined which of the total 680 arrested workers would be initially released. Agent David Boyd said officers released single parents and those with medical conditions — around 300, according to past reports.

Not all those released were given ankle monitors, Boyd said, because “we ran out.”

During an arraignment hearing before Anderson earlier Wednesday morning, officials discovered they had transported the wrong person — an ICE detainee who has not been indicted on criminal charges — to the court. Anderson even appointed defense attorney Carlos Tanner to represent the man before they discovered he was not the person on the docket.

Anderson also had to reschedule a bail hearing for another defendant who came to court Wednesday because the Spanish translator assigned to him did not speak Mam, a language spoken in Guatemala.