A federal immigration judge Wednesday set bail for one of the 51 people arrested in a recent operation in the Austin-area by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which will allow him to be released from a detention facility and at least temporarily return to his home.
Juan Pablo Covarrubias is being considered by his attorney as a “collateral arrest” — meaning immigration agents likely learned about him and detained him while investigating someone else. Attorney Stephen O’Connor said his client worked as a painter and did not have a criminal history when he was arrested near Lamar and Airport Boulevard nearly three weeks ago.
O’Connor said his client is eligible to be released once his family posts $8,000 bail.
“He wants to stay here and continue living a productive healthy life without the fear of violence in Mexico,” O’Connor said Wednesday. “He thinks he has more resources here.”
He said Covarrubias, who is 38 years old and has been in the country for about 18 years, has no immediate family in Austin but is involved in the lives of his nieces and nephews, who live in Travis County.
He also has an uncle in Austin, who he called when he first saw ICE agents moving in to arrest him.
“He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke,” Jose Paz-Llamas said in an interview. “He only works. He works for his family. He’s an honest person. I know the people who provide work for him are very proud of him.”
O’Connor confirmed his client’s identity after reading a recent American-Statesman report that said that among the 51 people arrested, 28 were identified by ICE as “non-criminals,” meaning they did not have a criminal history.
Covarrubias’ case indicates that some of those suspects who were arrested in Operation Cross Check are now going through the process of seeing judges to possibly have a bail set.
As a condition of his release, Covarrubias can’t commit a crime or he risks deportation. He also must attend a hearing in San Antonio before a judge in coming weeks.
O’Conner said his client hopes that he will be able to apply for asylum to remain legally in the country.
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