A 22-year-old Springdale woman detained since July after reporting domestic violence expects to leave an immigration jail today, when her husband posts an $8,500 bond set Tuesday morning by a federal judge, her attorney said.
Accused of living in the country illegally, Roxana Menjivar remains at risk for deportation to her native El Salvador -- which she left as a child more than a decade ago -- depending on how her court case is resolved. But, after posting bond, she'll be free after spending the past 127 nights in local and federal lockups.
"She should be home for Thanksgiving," said Menjivar's immigration attorney, Kedron Benham of Springdale.
Menjivar is one of hundreds of Arkansas residents caught amid a surge in immigration arrests this year, according to public records in Sebastian County, which through an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement temporarily holds many detainees at the county jail.
Menjivar called Springdale police in July to report domestic violence after a fight with her husband, Cesar Santos, over the custody of their toddler son. The officer determined that Menjivar was the aggressor and arrested her, according to the police report.
Prosecutors did not pursue the misdemeanor battery charge against Menjivar but filed a felony forgery case against her based on a fake Social Security card and legal permanent residency card found in her possession.
Menjivar pleaded guilty in October to the lesser, misdemeanor charge of possession of an instrument of crime. She received a one-year suspended sentence and was subsequently handed over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who had asked the Washington County jail to notify them before her release.
She opted against posting bond on the state charge, which was set at $2,500, because the immigration "detainer" would have prevented her release, Benham said.
Menjivar has spent her time in jail exercising and drawing, including pictures of her son, Santos said in a telephone interview Tuesday. Santos, who speaks with Menjivar three times per week, said they plan to spend Thanksgiving as a family.
"She became depressed" in jail, Santos said through a translator. "I tried to support her. Being separated from our son for such a long time made her frustrated. I would just try to calm her down, plan a future with her, telling her everything will be OK."
Menjivar moved to Arkansas from Utah in 2013 to live with Santos, whom she met through Facebook, Santos said. Santos, a legal permanent resident, is also from El Salvador.
Judge Lourdes Rodriguez de Jongh presided over Menjivar's bail hearing and initial court appearance Tuesday morning by telephone, Benham said. The Miami-based judge is one of several enlisted to cut into a backlog of pending cases at the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, La., and other "surge" courts across the country. More than 629,000 cases are pending nationwide.
Rodriguez de Jongh set Menjivar's next court appearance for mid-December, but that will change after she pays bail. Her removal proceedings will be transferred to the immigration court in Memphis, which is where cases for non-detained Arkansans are heard. Cases for people who are not in custody often proceed at a slower pace.
Benham said it "was kind of a battle" to persuade the judge to set bail in Menjivar's case because she received a 12-month suspended sentence. However, her crime was not deemed an act of "moral turpitude," a vague immigration-court concept that can block someone's release on bond.
Although bail amounts can be higher or lower, the typical range is between $5,000 to $10,000, Benham said.
Metro on 11/22/2017
Print Headline: Springdale alien granted bail; Woman held since July after reporting domestic abuse