The Grand Prairie woman sentenced to eight years in prison for voting illegally has been released from jail pending her appeal, authorities said.
An appeal bond of $11,111 for Rosa Maria Ortega was posted Thursday morning and Immigration and Customs Enforcement pulled her immigration hold, setting up her release.
Ortega, a U.S. resident and green-card holder, faces deportation by ICE after being convicted last month by a Tarrant County jury on two felony counts of illegal voting. The mother of four is free to reunite with her children and fiance, Oscar Sherman, who last visited her Wednesday at the Tarrant County Jail.
Her attorneys did not return messages Thursday evening.
Clark Birdsall, who defended Ortega in the trial, said Wednesday that the expectation was that immigration officials would to take her into custody and transport her to the Dallas Immigration Detention Center. From there, it was expected she would be transferred to a detention center to await a court hearing in front of an immigration judge.
It’s not clear if she will later be detained by ICE as her case works its way through the criminal justice and immigration court systems.
State District Judge Robb Catalano set the appeal bond Wednesday. It was the first step in what was considered to be a low-percentage attempt to get Ortega released from custody until an appeals court rules on whether she should be granted a new trial or serve the sentence delivered by the Tarrant County jury.
“I’m glad the judge put justice before politics in setting this bond,” Birdsall said Wednesday. “The next step comes down to if in fact she can get a bond from the immigration court. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I think she could have gotten one, but with the changing times and the flurry of executive orders coming out of the Oval Office; if she is no longer able to get an immigration bond, this is all for nothing.”
Federal immigration judges serve under newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“I don’t expect she’ll get a bond,” Fort Worth immigration attorney Francisco Hernandez said Wednesday. “With this much media attention, are you going to give a bond?”
Jeff Caplan: 817-390-7705, @Jeff_Caplan