For immediate release: May 19, 2017

Contact: Pangea Legal Services (415) 254-0475


After 15 months in immigration detention, Yazmin was only released after a Habeas petition

San Francisco, CA-- For many immigrants like Yazmin Elias, a client of Pangea Legal Services, California has failed them. The state has instituted a great number of policies to protect immigrants, yet everyday people like Yazmin fall through the cracks and end up in indefinite detention, at the hands of federal officials who have no interest in seeing them as human beings, capable of making mistakes, learning from them and becoming better people.

“Yazmin was convicted of 3 DUI’s, but was eventually, identified by a specialized DUI court as a victim of 20 years of domestic violence who deserved rehab and treatment, not incarceration,” said Luis Angel Reyes Savalza, one of Yazmin’s attorneys at Pangea Legal Services. “After completing 3-months of in-patient rehabilitation, and while enrolled in outpatient therapy, Yazmin was picked up by ICE after a court hearing in Sonoma County. Yazmin spent 15 months in immigration detention - 100 times longer than she ever had to serve for her past record - and for a charge that had already been resolved through rehabilitation by a specialized DUI court. She was only released after a Federal District Court issued an opinion that left the Immigration Judge with few options but to grant bond.”

Despite being a ‘sanctuary state,’ immigrants like Yazmin are routinely turned over to immigration officials who then punish them again for crimes they have already paid a price for. “In this case, after having been denied a bond three times by an immigration judge, Yazmin was released only after a Habeas petition we filed resulted in a strongly worded opinion by the Federal District Court,” said Etan Newman, another of Yazmin’s attorneys at Pangea Legal Services. "The District Court judge pretty much stated what we had been arguing for months, that the immigration court could not say our client was dangerous when the specialized DUI court had already said she was not.”

Yazmin’s immigration judge relented on May 11th by finally granting a bond of $25,000. Yazmin was released on May 15th, only after her community was able to raise the funds to post the immigration bond. “Yazmin, and others like her, are finding themselves serving indefinite years-long sentences through our immigration system simply because our State continues to cooperate with ICE agents,” said Reyes Savalza.

Pangea is committed to continuing to file Habeas petitions for clients just like Yazmin. “What the government has made clear to us is that they will only respect the rights of immigrants when we hold them accountable, and if that means filing a habeas petition for every wrongly detained family, that’s what we’re prepared to do,” said Newman.

What: Yazmin Elias to join community rally

When: Friday May 19th, at 11:00AM

Where: Women’s Building, 3583 18th St. San Francisco, Ca 94110