NFL player’s mother released from ICE lockup after flying to the US for an immigration hearing

The mother of NFL linebacker Neville Hewitt was put in a detention facility upon arriving in the US for an immigration hearing, but has now been released

Amelia Neath
Monday 29 January 2024 14:33 GMT
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NFL plater Neville Hewitt's mother released from a Georgia detention centre

The mother of NFL player Neville Hewitt has been released from detention after being locked up when she flew from Jamaica to Atlanta for an immigration hearing.

Deon Jones, the mother of the Houston Texans linebacker, was allegedly escorted off a plane in handcuffs and a waist chain by an ICE officer when she landed in the country, The Daily Beast reported.

The NFL player, 30,  was getting ready for a playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens on 20 January when he found out his mother was arrested upon arriving in the US.

On Sunday, Ms Jones, 47, was released from the detention centre she was being held in and was reunited with her son, the outlet revealed.

Ms Jones came to the US from Jamaica when she was 12 years old, but was ordered to be deported in 2014 after serving years in a Georgia state prison.

Neville Hewitt reunites with his mother who was put in a detention centre after landing in the US
Neville Hewitt reunites with his mother who was put in a detention centre after landing in the US (neville_hewitt / Instagram)

She was arrested in 2008 on a state drug trafficking charge after 40 grams of cocaine and marijuana were found in a car in which she was a passenger, the outlet said.

Mr Hewitt was only 14 at the time, only learning of her arrest after a football game at his high school.

In 2017, she was put up for parole but spent another year and a half in a detention centre with conditions so stressful that she agreed to be deported to Jamaica.

Benjamin Osorio, her immigration lawyer, eventually argued to the appeals court with success that what Georgia deemed drug trafficking in her conviction was not, by federal standards, an “aggravated felony” and should not have mandated a deportation, The Daily Beast wrote.

Hewitt was only 14 when his mother was initially arrested on drug-trafficking charges
Hewitt was only 14 when his mother was initially arrested on drug-trafficking charges (Getty Images)

Mr Osorio convinced the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to grant his client a new immigration hearing, yet Ms Jones allegedly had to appear in person, reported the outlet.

According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website, a deportee who returns to the US may be detained for “further immigration proceedings”, whether you are subject to mandatory detention under the immigration laws or should be detained because they pose a danger or a flight risk.

Mr Osorio told The Daily Beast that an ICE officer allegedly led him to believe Ms Jones would probably be released on house arrest with an ankle monitor, but she ended up in a detention centre two hours outside of Atlanta.

After a stretch in a Georiga prison, Ms Jones was moved to a detention facility and then deported to Jamaica
After a stretch in a Georiga prison, Ms Jones was moved to a detention facility and then deported to Jamaica (neville_hewitt / Instagram)

“This is what’s going on here in our country. And a lot of us, we are just not aware that this is actually taking place,” Mr Hewitt told The Daily Beast. “It’s been going on for years.”

When Mr Hewitt’s mother landed, an ICE officer came aboard and escorted her off the aircraft in handcuffs and a waist chain.

She began to message her son, but her phone was confiscated. Ms Jones allegedly received no immediate explanation of what was going on.

“I don’t care where you from or who you are, it’ll drive you crazy to know that you’re locked up and you don’t have an idea of why and what’s going on with you,” Mr Hewitt said to the outlet.

“You have no explanation. It’s mind-blowing.”

Ms Jones has now been reunited with her son, as seen in an emotional video posted by the NFL player of his mother’s release.

“I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Thank you God, Thank you for all the prayers, Thank you to the people with power that made this happen. On a Sunday,” he said in the caption.

Mr Osorio still warned that Ms Jones may have a years-long legal battle ahead of her but, in the meantime, she has been reunited with her family.

A spokesperson from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to The Independent in a statement that the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Atlanta division encountered Ms Jones on 20 January as she arrived into the US.

“Jones was previously removed from the United States in 2017,” the statement continued. “After filing a petition for review, which was remanded back to the Immigration Judge, she was paroled into the United States on Jan. 20, 2024, and transferred into ICE custody. On Jan. 29, 2024, a custody determination was made, and Jones was released from ICE custody, pending the outcome of her immigration proceedings.”

The spokesperson said that the ICE makes custody determinations “on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with U.S. law and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy, considering the circumstances of each case”.

“ICE officers make decisions on associated enforcement actions and apply prosecutorial discretion in a responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement professionals and in a manner that best protects the communities we serve,” the statement added.

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