Calumet City family reunited with immigrant who had been detained in Will County

Chicago-area immigration groups had pushed for Norberto Navarro-Torres’ release, fearing Will County officials would transfer him back to immigration custody.

SHARE Calumet City family reunited with immigrant who had been detained in Will County
Norberto Navarro-Torres, 30, had been detained for more than a month in Will County, which some immigration activists said was in violation of the state’s Trust Act. He was released March 23, 2022, after testifying as a witness in a trial in Will County, according to officials.

Norberto Navarro-Torres, 30, had been detained for more than a month in Will County, which some immigration activists said was in violation of the state’s Trust Act. He was released March 23, 2022, after testifying as a witness in a trial in Will County, according to officials.

Provided

For years Aida Navarro had participated in marches and rallies supporting immigrants, but she never thought she would have to call on the community to support her family.

Chicago-area immigration groups said that Navarro’s son, Norberto Navarro-Torres, was being detained in Will County in violation of state laws that prohibit local government entities from entering into agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Wednesday, her son was released after he testified as a witness in a trial in Will County, and he was allowed to return to her suburban Calumet City home.

“I’m happy to be able to hug my son again, to be able to have him with me is the maximum happiness for a mother who hadn’t seen her son in so many years and months,” Navarro said in Spanish, adding that they were celebrating by sharing a meal with the community groups who supported her family.

Navarro-Torres, 30, had been detained and placed in deportation proceedings in 2021 after a drug-related criminal conviction in Texas, according to records provided by his supporters.

On Jan. 20, he was transferred from ICE custody to Illinois to testify as a witness in a trial about a 2017 deadly crash near Beecher. A pregnant 29-year-old woman along with her three young children were killed in the crash.

His mother and supporters feared Navarro-Torres would return to ICE custody because of an agreement between Will County and ICE stating he would be returned to the federal immigration detention center after the trial.

However, Will County officials released Navarro-Torres from custody, said Nicole Hallett, an attorney representing Navarro-Torres.

In a statement, the Will County state’s attorney’s office said it was not assisting the federal government in deporting Navarro-Torres, adding that he had at one point agreed to remain in custody pending the trial.

Carole Cheney, the director of public affairs for the state’s attorney’s office, said they had detained him to ensure he would be able to testify as the only witness to the deadly crash. She confirmed that he was released from custody Wednesday once he finished testifying at the trial.

Cheney said prosecutors have also submitted paperwork in support of Navarro-Torres obtaining a U-visa because he was considered a victim in the deadly crash.

Hallett said the application for the U-visa has been filed, though it could take years before a decision is made. In the meantime, Navarro-Torres will be allowed to return home, and his permanent residency — commonly known as a green card — should still be valid because a deportation order wasn’t entered, Hallett said.

Still, the U-visa application could ensure he is able to remain in the country if his permanent residency is revoked, Hallett said.

“Norberto is just happy to be home with his family and his daughter,” Hallett said. “We talk a lot about family separation at the border, and this was a family that was separate from Chicago, and they have been reunited and we hope that he can remain with his family.”

Navarro said the family will be working to reunite with her son’s daughter who lives in Indiana. She said she was happy to have her son home so the family can grieve the losses of three relatives who died within the past year.

“Thanks to God, they did what they should have done from the start — free him,” she said.

Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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