2 men in ICE custody fail to appear in court

By Alma Gaul, Quad-City Times


DAVENPORT ? Court proceedings involving five of the 32 men arrested May 9 during a raid by Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, hit a snag on Tuesday when two of the men ? being held in ICE custody ? failed to appear in U.S. District Court in Davenport.

Elmer Urizar Lopez and Reinaldo Garcia Munoz were to be arraigned on felony indictment of unlawful re-entry, having been deported from the United States once before.

Because they did not appear, U.S. Attorney Ashley Corkery asked Judge Stephen Jackson to issue arrest warrants for failure to appear in both cases.

Jackson rejected her requests and continued the men?s arraignments indefinitely, asking the attorneys for each side to file a status report by July 9 advising where the men are and when they can appear.

Before the judge made his decision, Corkery argued it is not her office?s obligation to contact ICE to make arrangements for the men to appear. She also stated she does not know where the men are.

Lopez?s representative, Charles Paul, a student lawyer working under the supervision of a faculty member of the University of Iowa College of Law, said he understood Lopez had been moved to Eldora, in Hardin County.

?We would suggest a friendly phone call from the U.S. Attorney?s Office to ICE would have produced him,? Charles Paul said.

As for Munoz, attorney Eric Tindal, of Iowa City, said he does not know where his client is. ?For all I know, he?s at a black site somewhere.?

The Hardin County Jail website lists both Munoz and Lopez as current inmates.

The May 9 raid occurred at Midwest Precast Concrete.

Lopez, a native of Guatemala, was deported in 2014. He is the single parent and sole support of his 15-year-old son, according to Tammy Shull, chairperson of IowaWINS, a refugee/immigrant assistance group based at First Presbyterian Church, Mt. Pleasant.

Munoz, a native of Mexico, was convicted in 2006 in federal District Court in Davenport of fraud and misuse of documents, misuse of a Social Security number and aggravated identify theft and sentenced to two years and one day, according to court documents. He was deported in 2009 and again in 2013, according to court documents.

Munoz has a wife and two children, one aged 3 and the other 5 months, in the Mt. Pleasant area, Shull said.

Before the cases of Lopez and Munoz came up, three other men arrested in the May 9 ICE raid appeared to hear the charges against them. All three pleaded not guilty and Judge Jackson set trial dates for the week of July 30.

These three are:

? Oscar Romeo Mota Rivera is charged with unlawful re-entry, as well as fraud and misuse of visas/permits, misuse of Social Security numbers and use of identification documents not lawfully issued.

Each charge carries a sentence of up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000, a $100 special assessment and supervised release ranging from one to three years, Corkery stated.

Rivera, a native of Guatemala, was deported in 2015. He has a sister living in the United States, Shull said.

? Elmer Joel Espinal and Ricardo Macias Saucedo are both charged with unlawful entry.

Espinal, a native of Honduras, was deported in 2007. His history includes a 2004 conviction in Texas for assault causing bodily injury, according to court documents.

He has a wife and two children in the Mt. Pleasant area, Shull said.

Saucedo, a native of Mexico, was previously deported in 2008.

He has a wife and two children in Mt. Pleasant.

During the hearings, the courtroom was packed with about 35 people from the Quad Cities, including clergy, who have attended hearings to show support for immigrants and to indicate to the courts that citizens are watching how the cases are handled.

After the hearings, the citizens gathered outside the courtroom to discuss what they had heard.

?What a mess this is,? Patricia Jones of Davenport said about the non-appearance of Lopez and Munoz. ?And then we wonder where the children are,? she said, referring to the widely publicized status of children being separated from their parents at the border with Mexico.

?It?s hard for me to believe this is the United States, this is Iowa,? she said. ?It breaks my heart. When this is going on with adults, you wonder how they are caring for the children.?