SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — UPDATE: Cesar Acosta’s wife, Megan Taylor, said Cesar is coming back home, as of Wednesday. She expects him home Wednesday night. Megan said she’s grateful for the support from the community, family, friends and politicians for making it possible.
Megan and her friends and family, as well as Cesar, are still planning to host a gathering on Saturday at the Jones Center in Springdale to raise awareness of immigration law. The event will be held from 1-5 p.m.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Springdale man was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while on the way back from his wedding in Mexico on Feb. 9.
Cesar Acosta was detained in Houston by ICE on Valentine’s Day. He was returning from his wedding trip early because his wife’s grandfather had just died. His wife, Megan Taylor, said she waited in the airport for hours for him to be released.
“We should be together right now celebrating the life that we just started together as a married couple, and that’s been taken away from us,” Megan said.
She eventually asked an immigration officer for a phone number to call, but when she made that call, she realized how serious the situation was. According to Megan, he was detained by ICE due to a misdemeanor he received in 2013 on his senior high school prom night. According to court documents, those charges were resolved.
According to Megan, Cesar’s original work Visa was issued in 1999. He had a permanent residency card issued in 2009 and had it renewed in 2019.
Megan said ICE officials told her that Cesar should have gone before an immigration judge in 2013 to see if his permanent resident status would be taken away.
Aaron Cash, an immigration attorney at Herrera Law Group in Springdale, said people who are permanent residents have a lawful right to live in the U.S., but there are certain convictions that would trigger someone being detained when entering back into the country. Some examples he gave include possession of marijuana, shoplifting and other misdemeanors.
While he is not Cesar’s lawyer and doesn’t have specifics about the case, he said usually misdemeanors can cause flags at the airport.
“They can still use that against someone, unfortunately. That’s what the law allows them to look into. Now, there are ways that you can fight that and present a defense for someone, especially if they’re a permanent resident. Unfortunately, the law is at times very strict on this,” Cash said.
Cash believes, from the limited information he has on Cesar’s case, that he has a good chance of being released and staying in the U.S. He also has the opinion that if someone has completed a sentence on a misdemeanor charge, they shouldn’t be detained and potentially forced to leave the country.
“It’s a question for Congress to look at. It’s also a question just to make sure that there were no mistakes made here, no errors. My personal opinion is that we shouldn’t be ripping someone from their job, from their home, from their new wife,” Cash said.
Since 2013, Cesar got a college degree in Northwest Arkansas, obtained a job as a plant research scientist, fell in love with Megan, and built a life here.
“No person should lose their entire life, their home, for something that they did in high school,” Megan said.
Megan and Cesar met in the spring of 2013. They were paired as English peer review partners. From there, it’s history. They became friends, started dating and finally fell in love. They got married on their eight-year anniversary.
A big part of Megan and Cesar’s story was their time taking care of Megan’s father, who was a disabled veteran. He passed away in 2018, but Cesar was Megan’s rock during that time.
“I know that if my dad was still here, he’d be doing everything he could to bring Cesar home,” Megan said.
Cesar is held in the Montgomery Processing Center. KNWA/FOX24 called the processing center Tuesday. According to a worker at the center, he will be held in active quarantine for 14 to 21 days. Megan said Cesar was terrified the first few days of his detainment.
“He’s held in a quarantine area where he is in a cell. He has not been able to leave that cell since he’s been transported there. It doesn’t have a window to the outdoors. He can’t leave to use the restroom or anything. It’s all in that cell,” Megan said.
Megan, as well as Cesar’s family and friends, have been very active on social media calling for people to help free Cesar. Since then, the community has poured out its support. On Saturday, Cesar’s friends and family are hosting a “Bring Cesar Home” event at The Jones Center.
The event will be a fundraiser to support the release of Cesar. There will be art, wellness and beauty services, a silent auction and games. Megan said community advocates and lawyers will also be there to educate people in the area about immigration laws. The event will be held from 1-5 p.m.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Megan said she expected Cesar to be released soon. She will know more on Wednesday.
“When he does get home, we are going to cherish every single moment of it more than we ever have before and do everything we can to make the most of what we have,” Megan said.
U.S. Representative Steve Womack sent KNWA/FOX24 a statement about Cesar’s detainment.
Constituent services are a core function of our office, and I can confirm that our office is in contact with the family and working to address the issue.Office of U.S. Representative Steve Womack