Man detained for immigration status released from detention cent - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Man detained for immigration status released from detention center

Jose Gonzalez Ochoa. (Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM) Jose Gonzalez Ochoa. (Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
Jose Gonzalez Ochoa.(Source: WTVM File) Jose Gonzalez Ochoa.(Source: WTVM File)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – After appearing before an immigration court judge, one man is no longer held inside a local detention center.

José Gonzalez Ochoa has been in The Stewart County Detention Center for weeks after being pulled over for a driving infraction in Harris County and was found to have no legal documentation.

Gonzalez said the very first thing he saw was his girlfriend, Marta Lopez, run to him and hug him after all this time inside the Stewart County Detention Center.

"Just to know that you're free... I don't know, I told her, it's amazing," Gonzalez said.  "I just cannot believe I'm outside."

Gonzalez says this was also a bittersweet moment, knowing he's saying goodbye to his new friends, who will remain living in harsh conditions inside the detention center.

"You're suffering there," he said. "The food, the restrooms, everything... All the facilities, it's just, it's not good."

Susan Krysak, a new friend of Gonzalez and Lopez, said she comes to the detention center often, as a volunteer who's seen firsthand how detainees live in what she calls "unsanitary" conditions.

"They become very tired and sick in there," Krysak said. "Jose's sick right now. A lot of the men are sick. I just think this is not a good use of money."

Recently, Gonzalez has qualified for a U-Visa, reserved specifically for victims of domestic violence - that way, he can legally stay here in the U.S.

However, both Gonzalez and his attorney claim that because of a backlog in Georgia immigration cases, it may take years to officially receive his paperwork.

Gonzalez' release happened after he appeared before immigration court Monday, and a judge granted him $3000 in bond.

"A government attorney was telling the judge I was not eligible for a bond, so I heard my girlfriend crying in the back," Gonzalez said.

"I felt like crying too, but the judge, he told me I was going to get bond, and it was the happiest moment in a long time."

Gonzalez' attorney, Britt Thames, confirmed Lopez traveled to Atlanta to pay for Gonzalez' bond.

Now that Gonzalez is out, he said he wants to get back to work on his education.

"I want to go to college, because now I have the opportunity, and that's great, that's amazing. I want to be a dentist."

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