This story has been updated to add detail.
KANSAS CITY — It was a roller coaster of a day for Carlos Hernandez Pacheco and his family, but one that ended well.
Pacheco, a well-revered West Frankfort businessman and community member, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers Feb. 9 regarding questions over his legal residency status. He was scheduled for a bond hearing Wednesday where an Article I judge granted him $3,000 bond, which he posted.
However, Pacheco’s lawyer, Victor Arana, of Austin Texas, said it almost wasn’t that easy. Arana said he had filed all the necessary paperwork to both the Office of Chief Counsel and to the judge last week for Pacheco’s bond hearing Wednesday. In fact, he had gotten good news.
Arana said Chief Counsel had tentatively agreed to release Pacheco on a bond of $2,500. This was not set in stone, as the judge had not signed off on it yet, however Arana said it is not common for a judge to disagree when Chief Counsel and the defense come to an agreement.
“Carlos was in the jail and he found out through the officers there,” Arana said. He said they told his client he had a bond and that he could go post it. But there was just one problem — no one told Arana.
When Arana found out Tuesday evening, it was too late to post bond. When he was making the drive from Springfield, Missouri, to St. Louis on Wednesday, he was told the Chief Counsel had gone back on their agreement. They were no longer offering bond.
While in the hills of the Ozarks, Arana had to do some quick redirecting, changing his destination to Kansas City, Missouri. He knew he didn’t want to fight this case over a cell phone.
“This is all communications. You’ve got to be able to see what the judge is latching on to,” Arana said.
He pulled into Kansas city just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, just two and a half hours before Pacheco’s bond hearing, which he would telecommute to via an ICE detention center in Montgomery City, Missouri. Arana said he threw on a suit in a parking garage after he arrived at a friend’s law firm. There he sat in a Kansas City high rise, preparing for a case he thought he had in the bag just hours before.
All's well that ends well, though. After presenting his case to the judge, Pacheco was approved for bond. But, Arana said this is just the first step. The case is still open.
Arana said in Pacheco’s case, his first step to legal residency was to prove the validity of his marriage to his wife, a lawful permanent resident. In 2010, they did just that. They filed their documents and waited for word from immigration and they got it. However, in the last seven years Pacheco was never able to make the next step in his immigration process, which would have been to exit the country and wait for word from immigration that he had been greenlighted to reenter the country and continue down the path to legal residency.
“For some reason the Department of State and Carlos never connected on making arrangements for the process to finish up outside of the country,” Arana said.
This is what lead to his arrest. However, with his being out on bond, Arana said they are free to make the next step, which is to apply for a provisional waiver, which will shorten the length of time he will have to be out of the country before being allowed back in.
Arana said unless Pacheco breaks the rules of his bond, he is not likely to be arrested again. He should have paperwork to prove he is out on bond to deliver to ICE agents should they ask for his papers.
Despite the complications of the trial, friends and family are just happy to have Pacheco home. Tim Grigsby, a close personal friend of Pacheco, said he waited in St. Louis most of the day Wednesday to do anything he his friend needed.
“I’m very excited,” Grigsby said. He just wants to get his friend reunited with his family.
“Obviously we can’t wait to get him home to his family and friends,” Grigsby said.