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Central Minnesota farm worker remains in custody while immigration case is pending

Julio Estrada Escobar is being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after being pulled over in Otter Tail County.

EVANSVILLE, Minn. — Julio Estrada Escobar, a farm worker in Evansville who fled — illegally — from Guatemala to the United States, will remain in custody while federal officials determine his immigration status.

After a review of his case Saturday, Oct. 21, Escobar's wife, Nancy, was informed Monday morning, Oct. 23, that he will remain in jail until his next court appearance.

The family's attorney had argued that Julio Escobar is a hard-working father and was not a flight risk and should be released while his immigration case is pending.

Escobar entered the United States in 2001. He was deported in 2003 to Mexico after telling U.S. authorities he was from Mexico, not Guatemala. He stayed in Mexico with his wife's family for about a month. He then re-entered into the United States with his wife, who was born in the United States, and her parents.

Shawn Neudauer, a regional public affairs officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, said, "Due to his immigration history, he is subject to mandatory detention under the Immigration and Nationality Act. He'll remain in ICE custody pending further immigration proceedings."

Nancy Estrada said her husband has a reasonable fear hearing Tuesday, Nov. 7. At that time, he has to prove he fears going back to Guatemala.

If the courts decide there is credible fear, Julio Escobar will be able to remain in the United States. He would be given a temporary work visa, which he will have to renew every year.

If the fear is not substantiated, Nancy Estrada said her husband would remain in custody until his deportation. If that happens, the family will appeal, she said.

Federal felony

According to a statement from Neudauer, Escobar "has previously been convicted in federal court of making a false claim to U.S. citizenship, which is a federal felony."

In 2003, Neudauer said, "Escobar initially claimed he was from Puerto Rico, and later recanted and claimed he was from Mexico. A recent review of records, and by his own admission, however, he's actually from Guatemala."

Neudauer added, "Throughout his 2003 dealings with U.S authorities, he made repeated false statements concerning his nationality."

'It is unjust'

The Escobars have been living in Evansville with their two children since 2013.

Julio Escobar was brought to the Carver County Jail in Chaska in July after being pulled over in Otter Tail County.

Nancy Estrada said it is unjust there is no path for her husband to become a citizen.

"America should be a place where people can come who are fleeing unsafe situations in their own country, or starving, to build a new life here," she said.

She said her husband has done that, albeit illegally. But, she added that now that her husband has been in the U.S. for so many years, he has proved that he has all the qualities anyone could hope for in a citizen.

"He works hard, he provides for his family, he is a good father, he is a good friend and neighbor. Other than this one instance, he has a completely clear record," she said. "His children and I are American. What good is served to tear this good and happy family apart?"

She said he should be allowed to apply for a work visa or green card, and let him stay with his family and live his life in Minnesota.

"Our children and I are devastated, as are his friends and community," she said. "We are frightened for Julio, and we are wondering what is the future for any immigrant in our country?"

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