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Bail hearing reset in immigration case; Arkansas woman held after calling police for domestic-violence help

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Photographs by Sebastian County jail

Roxana Menjivar

An immigration bail hearing for the Salvadoran woman jailed since July after she called police to report domestic violence has been delayed by one week.

Roxana Menjivar, a 22-year-old Springdale woman accused of living in the country illegally, has spent the past 119 nights in two Arkansas jails and a federal detention center while awaiting resolution on state and immigration charges.

Her attorney, Kedron Benham, said the presiding judge reset the hearing for next Monday to review filings Benham submitted last week. A backlogged court system plus the Veterans Day holiday on Friday may have contributed to the postponement, he said.

Menjivar arrived in the U.S. 11 years ago, Benham said. She is married to a legal resident and has an American son.

A Springdale officer found counterfeit documents -- a Social Security card and a legal resident card -- while arresting her on a misdemeanor battery charge in July, according to the arrest report.

Menjivar had called police to to report a domestic dispute with her husband, who was cited for breaking her cellphone, according to the police report.

Prosecutors did not pursue the battery charge against Menjivar but filed a felony forgery case against her. Menjivar pleaded guilty last month in Washington County to possession of an instrument of crime, a misdemeanor.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a "detainer" on Menjivar after her arrest, or a formal request that local authorities transfer her to their custody prior to her release.

Menjivar opted against posting a $2,500 bond on the state charge because of that detainer, Benham said. She would have been transferred to the immigration jail seven hours away in Jena, La. and the federal proceedings would have begun with the state felony charge unresolved, he said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement took custody of Menjivar after her guilty plea.

A temporary judge will remotely oversee Menjivar's case from Miami, Benham said.

The U.S. Department of Justice has enlisted judges from other jurisdictions to help out in so-called surge courts, such as the Louisiana jail, to help process a national backlog that exceeds 629,000 pending cases.

Metro on 11/14/2017

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