"There's a backlog," Jason Lorenzon, an immigration attorney in Cleveland said in an interview the day after the raid. "There's not enough judges and there's just not enough resources to process these people."
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's and Homeland Security agents executed a search warrant at the Fresh Mark, a meat processing plant in Salem, and arrested hundreds of employees accused of violating federal immigration laws.
Many of the people arrested were being processed at the ICE facility in Brooklyn Heights late Tuesday. The processing center located at 925 Keystone Circle was their first stop before they are taken to detention centers in Ohio or Michigan.
Tuesday's raid was the second conducted by federal authorities this month. The first happened June 5 at a Sandusky-based gardening and landscaping company where over 100 people were arrested. Both marked two of the largest raids U.S. officials carried out in recent memory and a means for President Donald Trump to fulfill promises he made throughout his 2016 presidential campaign to tighten the U.S.-Mexico border and enforce immigration laws.
But lawyers and advocates say the process starting from their arrest to the day their cases are heard in the federal immigration court can be long, difficult to understand and is rooted in racial profiling.
Once someone is arrested they go through an intake process. The process can take hours as federal officials conduct background and name checks, fingerprinting and whether the people have a history of past deportations. If they have been deported before, they wouldn't be allowed to talk to a judge due to an immigration law that requires immediate deportation for repeat offenders, Case Western Reserve University professor and immigration attorney Aleksandar Cuic said.
The majority of people arrested in Salem and Sandusky face civil charges, Jessica Ramos, an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, INC., said. They have the ability to obtain a lawyer, but one will not be appointed or paid for by the government, she said. People are required to look for their own attorney and pay for services.
Both Ramos and Lorenzon represent people arrested in both raids. Lorenzon said his client in the Sandusky case was recently given a court date for July -- more than a month after the raid was initially executed.
"The system is made for immigrants to fail," he said. "It's a very complicated system."
After the intake process, the people are either temporarily housed at the Brooklyn Heights facility or placed at detention centers throughout the state as they prepare for a bond hearing, their first official court appearance. The nearest center is at a private prison in Youngstown that contracts with ICE to house people accused of entering the country illegally.
Usually, court and bond hearings are made within the first 48 hours of a raid, Ramos said. It's unclear if the people arrested have received a bond hearing, where amounts can range between $1,500 to $50,000.
However, Lorenzon, said the arrest of more than 250 people this month might make it difficult for detention centers to house so many. He suspects people currently awaiting immigration court proceedings were moved to other jails or detention centers to make room for those people arrested Tuesday.
Authorities have been tight-lipped as to where the people will be specifically housed, but advocates expect people to be placed in detention centers in Geauga County and Tiffin due to the governments contract with the prisons.
The 114 workers who were arrested at Corso's Flower & Garden Center in Sandusky and Castilia were sent to prisons in Youngstown and Michigan. The men were housed at the Youngstown prison, which is operated by CoreCivic. Women were taken to a prison in Michigan.
It remains to be seen where the government expects to house the 146 people arrested at the Fresh Mark plant.
Messages left for an ICE spokesman Wednesday were not returned.
During Tuesday's raid, federal authorities separated those who appeared to be "Americans" and "immigrants," Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio J. Bennett Guess said. They were selected off of physical appearance and other characteristics, he said.
"If this turns out to be true, it would further underscore what we already know -- these are coordinated attacks on the Latino community, with racial profiling and animus at the center of the Trump Administration's practices," he said.
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