2018-04-19 / Front Page

Non-resident released by immigration

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

The Lake Leelanau man detained in Sault Ste. Marie since March 22 will be released on bond after a hearing in Detroit yesterday morning.

The man, whose name is being withheld prevent his family from being known, appeared in Detroit Immigration Court via teleconference from Sault Ste. Marie.

He is not an American citizen.

Several local residents traveled to Detroit to vouch for the man, who was portrayed as a model citizen in the community.

Among them were Rebecca Reynolds of Leland and John O’Neill of Cedar.

“As soon as he was picked up the community stepped up to support him and his family,” said Reynolds, who has known the man for 10 years. “We know this family. It’s an integral part of the community and we’re shocked this is happening.”

Agents from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol picked up the man last month after he dropped his children off at Leland Public School. His children are American citizens.

A request for comment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol were not answered.

The Lake Leelanau man has been held in Sault Ste. Marie pending yesterday’s hearing.

He was represented yesterday by an immigration lawyer hired by local supporters.

“Initially, (the lawyer) requested a $1,500 bond. But the U.S. Attorney didn’t think that was enough,” O’Neill said.

Bond was set at $5,000, which Reynolds said will be covered by donations. The man was expected to be released once paperwork was completed yesterday or sometime today.

O’Neill has known the detainee for four years and was “shocked” when he heard of the man’s arrest.

Upon learning of yesterday’s Immigration Court date, O’Neill posted a petition on Facebook in support of the man whose children are ages 9, 12 and 16.

In just over 30 hours, O’Neill collected more than 800 signatures of support on the site

“The signers were not exclusively from county residents, but an overwhelming number were county people and people from the area,” O’Neill said.

Not all comments were supportive as the petition ignited a firestorm of online posts.

“The law is the law and it applies to all, race, color or creed,” wrote a Lake Leelanau man.

Another questioned if the man was wanted for a crime. “Perhaps some facts should be made known before blaming the agents,” he wrote.

But O’Neill said the man has no criminal record — just a ticket for driving with an expired license.

The man will be free on bond pending a future court date in 2021 or 2022.

“In previous years, the government was after people with a criminal element,” Reynolds said. “They’ve stepped up enforcement and the courts are jammed.”

The man is expected to remain free on bond with periodic appearances in person at the Immigration Court in Detroit.

Meanwhile, supporters will be working to make the informal petition more “formal” and letters of support will be gathered from professors at Northwestern Michigan College, where the man attended classes, and teachers at Leland Public School.

“It’s a long and slow process,” Reynolds said. “He’s in (government) sights, but they’re not sending him to the airport.”

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Happy to see this man out on

Happy to see this man out on bond. If the government of today existed in the 1800's i would not be here.