Amid speculation and controversy, Sergio Cardenas Rubio — one of the three employees of Sava’s restaurant that was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Wednesday morning — was released on Friday. A second employee, Jesus Ortiz Hernandez, was released Wednesday afternoon and the third, Mohamed Souman, is still in custody.
In a Friday interview, Bree Stilwell, the marketing director at Savco Hospitality — the group that encompasses Sava’s and Aventura restaurant, among others in Ann Arbor — said the restaurant received word Friday morning Cardenas Rubio had been released and planned to meet with his attorney Friday afternoon.
“We should have more information pretty soon on his eligibility to work,” she said.
Stilwell said the same held true for Hernandez — she is still waiting on more details in regards to his legal eligibility to work. Both are currently on tethers and under ICE restriction.
“There is an employment authentication procedure that needs to be completed for both employees,” she said. “They’re on tethers in the interim … Given their completion of that paperwork, they should be ready to come back to work.”
Stilwell said she was not entirely sure how long it would take to process such paperwork, though approximated somewhere between 30 to 90 days.
Souman, however, is still being detained by the ICE.
“Mohamed Souman, unfortunately, is not up for bond, he’s not eligible for bond because he overstayed his visa,” she said. “That was his particular violation. Of course — something that was completely outside of our awareness. Sadly, he is not eligible to be released and will be facing a trial date. We’re not sure when. That hasn’t been set.”
A fourth employee Carlos Rivera-Ochoa was handcuffed at Sava’s Wednesday, while he was taking out the garbage, but immediately released after he proved his identity by way of identification he had on hand. ICE officials had mistaken him for someone else.
According to MLive, Nicki Sanchez — the wife of Rivera-Ochoa — said her husband was terrified by the incident and is afraid it will happen again.
Rivera-Ochoa was given the day off on Thursday, according to Stilwell, but was back to work on Friday. He has been responsive to interviews as well.
After the incident Wednesday, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor took to Facebook to discuss how such ICE action infringes upon the lives of community members.
“This ICE action does not protect American jobs, or make us safer; all it achieves is to disrupt hard working people who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families,” he wrote.
He also commented on the unseemly nature of the agents, who ate breakfast at Sava’s prior to detaining employees.
In an interview, State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D–Ann Arbor) echoed Taylor’s concern about the manner in which the ICE agents detained the employees.
“This is a very troubling situation…” he said. “Just the way that the ICE agents approached the situation — you know, they had the gall to go in there and eat at the restaurant before going in the back kitchen and terrorizing all these people.”
Rabhi also questioned the way the ICE agents sought out Rivera-Ochoa — an action that he believes represents “abuse” by the agents.
“I just think it’s unacceptable for ICE to be doing this, and especially the individual that actually had his papers on him and was still handcuffed and detained for a short period of time before being released,” he said. “Why are you subjecting somebody to that? The person that they were looking for wasn’t even there and yet they went back — how did they know who else to pick up? Did they base it on the color of their skin? Did they base it on the language that they’re speaking? Did they base it on where they’re working in the kitchen? I think it really shows that profiling is used and abused by the ICE agents.”
Rabhi concluded that he feels ICE should apologize to the community for their actions.