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. 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 over 8,000 petition signatures were gathered, community members held multiple rallies and packed her courtroom, and a Federal District Court issued an opinion that left the Immigration Judge with few options but to grant bond. 

After having been denied bond three times by an immigration judge, Yazmin was released only after a Habeas petition filed by Pangea that resulted in the Federal District Court instructing the immigration court that it could not say Yazmin was dangerous when the specialized DUI court had already said she was not.

Yazmin’s immigration judge relented at her third bond hearing by finally granting a bond of $25,000. Yazmin was released only after her community was able to raise the funds to post the immigration bond. 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 and organizing with community members for every wrongly detained family, that’s what Pangea and our partners are prepared to do.