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Detained immigrant released in Erie, put under electronic monitoring

| Friday, March 21, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

An immigrant whose case became a rallying cry for anti-deportation activists was released on Thursday in Erie on unsecured bond.

Alfredo Ramos-Gallegos, 40, of Painesville, Ohio, pleaded not guilty to a felony charge that he returned to the United States illegally about 14 years ago. If upheld, the charge would mark a second immigration offense for Ramos-Gallegos, who was deported to Mexico after a factory raid in Ohio in 2000.

He was taken into custody again on Feb. 8 after a routine traffic stop in Mentor, Ohio, then jailed in the Erie County Prison. His family and supporters have acknowledged he was in the United States illegally.

U.S. Magistrate Susan Paradise Baxter agreed to release Ramos-Gallegos on the condition that he stay at home under electronic monitoring while the case proceeds. The court has not set his next hearing date, said Thomas Patton, the assistant federal public defender representing Ramos-Gallegos.

Patton said he will ask David Hickton, the U.S. attorney for Western Pennsylvania, to reconsider whether to prosecute Ramos-Gallegos. President Obama ordered a review of immigration enforcement in the weeks since Ramos-Gallegos was arrested.

His “only crime was answering his pregnant, United States citizen wife's pleas that he return to Painesville to help raise their children,” Patton said in a written statement.

Hickton's office declined to comment on an active case. If convicted, Ramos-Gallegos could face a two-year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine or both.

Dozens of activists assembled on Thursday outside the Erie Federal Courthouse to support Ramos-Gallegos. A grassroots Latino group, HOLA Ohio, organized the effort and has called for an easing of federal immigration policies.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.

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