Immigrant Rights Workers Released on Bond From ICE Detention

Marcos Baltazar

Two migrant workers arrested by immigration officers in Homewood last month were released on bond Wednesday following fund-raising and petition drives by Adelante Alabama Worker Center.

Marcos Baltazar, a member of the Adelante board of directors, and his son, Juan, 18, spent the month in detention facilities at the Etowah County Jail in Gadsden and in Jena, La.

Both facilities have been cited by human rights groups for their inhumane treatment of detainees, said Reysha Swanson of Adelante, a non-profit organization based in Hoover that unites migrant workers and their families.

The two, who are immigrants, were arrested Aug. 22 when they went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Homewood for a routine check-in. Neither has a criminal record.

ICE often requires immigrants to attend check-ins to monitor their location and movement within the country as they await their day in court.

The release of the two men came about after Adelante raised more than $16,000 to pay their bonds and to provide financial support to their family. The group gathered more than 1,800 signatures for a petition calling on ICE to release the pair.

Also, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones reportedly each made inquiries to the Department of Homeland Security concerning the detention of the Baltazars.

Baltazar entered this country from Guatemala three years ago following the death of his wife. Though undocumented, he was allowed to stay in the country with his son, who was a minor at the time, provided he periodically checked in with ICE, according to Adelante Alabama.

His son turned 18 this year, so he is no longer considered a minor by ICE, and the Baltazars were arrested

Supporter of the Shut Down Etowah group pickets in Gadsden, with the Etowah Center in the background

Marcos Baltazar said there “was very little food” given detainees at the Etowah and Jena detention centers.

“They didn’t give us any clothes to change into after we showered so we wore same clothes. The bathrooms had no privacy – when you were taking a shower you could see someone using the bathroom at the same time,” he said of the Etowah center.

“In Louisiana things were somewhat better, but we were still given very little food.”

Conditions in detention centers have been in the spotlight, especially since Trump’s crackdown on families crossing the border. Joyce Vance, former U.S. Attorney for the Alabama’s northern district, at a recent protest likened the detention centers to concentration camps.


Read BirminghamWatch’s coverage on the Etowah Detention Center and immigration:


Alabama Site for Detained Immigrants Has History of Abuse Charges, Efforts to Close It


Man Without a Country’ Describes Conditions at Gadsden Detention Center


Lawyers: Major Changes Happening in How Law Is Applied to Immigrants


Immigration Rights Worker and Son Detained by ICE