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Yellow Springs man facing deportation released from ICE detainment

Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 @ 5:58 PM

A Yellow Springs man now detained because of his immigration status has led village officials to question their policies and practices.

A Yellow Springs man facing possible deportation has been released on bond from federal custody. Meanwhile the village where he was arrested is reviewing policing protocols, which may contradict its council’s resolution to be a welcoming community.

Miguel Espinosa, an undocumented immigrant who is well-known in the Dayton area for his food truck business, Miguel’s Tacos, was released on $10,000 bond after he was granted a hearing in front of Ohio Immigration Judge David Whipple.

When contacted by phone Wednesday, Espinosa said he was spending time with his children and didn’t have time for a full interview. When asked if he would be selling tacos in the village again, he said he was “planning to start work next week.”

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Espinosa was arrested by a Yellow Springs officer during an Aug. 26 traffic stop. He was pulled over for not stopping properly at an intersection and he was arrested for not having a driver’s license. It was the second time Espinosa had been cited for not having a license in the village, and according to village policing policy, repeat offenders are taken to the Greene County Jail.

Village officials did not return messages seeking comment. However, council members and Yellow Springs Village Manager Josue Salmeron discussed the issue at its meeting earlier this month.

A Yellow Springs man now detained because of his immigration status has led village officials to question their policies and practices in making arrests.

“How do we help a local resident who has demonstrated to have deep roots in our community, runs a business, employees local residents, is raising a family in Yellow Springs? He is part of the vibrancy of Yellow Springs,” Salmeron said during the discussion about Espinosa’s arrest.

Salmeron and Police Chief Brian Carlson were among more than 100 people who wrote letters to the immigration court in support of Espinosa receiving a bond hearing.

Salmeron noted during the meeting the political climate in which the village is operating.

“Greene County, it’s very conservative compared to Yellow Springs, not just now but historically. Yellow Springs has a very progressive history and we have to recognize that Yellow Springs is operating in a political climate that doesn’t reflect the Yellow Springs values,” Salmeron said.

The village released a statement following Espinosa’s arrest that they would be reviewing police protocols and policies “to find a better solution … and is sensitive to the dynamics of vulnerable populations.”

During the same meeting, Council President Brian Housh indicated the village’s policy on repeat offenders may be in contradiction to a resolution council passed last year about being a “welcoming community.”

The resolution says in-part that council “supports and encourages local and regional efforts to welcome and offer sanctuary to immigrants,” and that no village department should use resources for “the sole purpose of detecting or apprehending persons based on suspected immigration status” unless under court-order.

“One of the things I think we need to think a lot about is when … the impacts of those policies can be really detrimental,” Housh said to council members.

Judge Whipple determined at the hearing that Espinosa is not a flight risk and does not pose a danger to others, according to his lawyer Karen Bradley, a University of Dayton professor.

A master schedule hearing, similar to an arraignment, is expected to be scheduled within a month or two in Espinosa’s case. Bradley said they will be submitting an application for benefits that the judge should have in-hand during that hearing.

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If the judge agrees the case should receive an “individual hearing,” that hearing could be pushed back to 2022 because of the backlog of immigration cases in the Ohio court, Bradley said.

The best case scenario is Espinosa is granted a “cancellation of removal,” which relies on four criteria, the most difficult of which to meet is whether his removal from the country would cause an exceptional hardship for his family members.

“That is the biggest issue judges struggle with because they can use discretion,” she said. “Hardship is not just separating from family members. It has to be a hardship that is not ordinary … Judges can certainly review that testimony and hopefully show proof that removing him from the U.S. would cause a hardship on that level.”