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Korean woman still in jail 5 months after her arrest

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The legal case of a Toledo couple facing deportation to South Korea is moving at last, but it appears it's moving toward another delay.

Five months after Young Jung was arrested when federal officials raided the West Toledo home she shares with her husband and son, she remains behind bars in Michigan. Meanwhile, the possibility of a bond hearing - a procedure that could allow Mrs. Jung to return home while her immigration case unfolds - has been transferred to another court.

The reason: the new Real ID Act. The law most notably standardizes requirements on state driver's licenses, but it also tightens immigration laws. That means the Jungs' request for a bond hearing for Mrs. Jung, which already has been delayed three times, this week is in transit to a new courtroom.

"She's been in there more than 150 days. I tell people that and they say, "No, not in America,'●" said Leonard Jessop, a friend of the Jungs.

Mrs. Jung, 46, a long-time volunteer at Emmanuel Baptist Christian School, and her husband, Dae, a sushi chef at downtown's Navy Bistro, have a 15-year-old son, Andrew, who was born in Lucas County.

The Jungs' immigration woes date back to the mid-1990s.

The Jungs came to Toledo in 1984 so Mr. Jung could study at the University of Toledo. But their status as legal aliens changed after they returned for a short time to South Korea in 1995, then arrived for a second time in Toledo. Mr. Jung failed to follow through on plans to attend a language school as he said he would, according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. In 1996, INS ordered the pair deported.

But the Jungs argued they didn't know about a deportation hearing, and that they have been far from fugitives from justice. They live in Toledo, have published phone numbers, and pay taxes. Additionally, a separate government office in 2000 gave permission to Toledo's Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant to hire Mr. Jung.

Arguments from both sides now rest with the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Va.

In the second legal track, the Jungs had asked a U.S. District Court judge to release Mrs. Jung or set a reasonable bond. But in May, Congress passed the Real ID Act.

A provision of the bill moves immigrants' habeas corpus cases at the federal district court level directly to an appeals court. That means the Jungs' case this week transferred from U.S. District Court in Youngstown to U.S. 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati.

The court still may not have jurisdiction. U.S. assistant prosecutor Lisa Hammond Johnson said she believes the appeals court lacks jurisdiction until the Board of Immigration Appeals makes its decision.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) has contacted immigration officials to make sure the case is on track. She said though her power is limited, it's important that the Jungs get a hearing as quickly as possible.

"In an age of terrorism, the INS is under very strict procedural guidelines. Therefore, I think they're interpreting the letter of the law here, and there's very little give," she said.

Still, she added: "We've been pushing for the hearings because we think the facts will convince them that [Mrs. Jung should] remain in the United States."

In the meantime, supporters of the Jungs have set up a Web site. They remain frustrated that they continually try to visit Mrs. Jung while she's moved from one Michigan lockup to another.

Mr. Jung said he appreciates the support, but he worries about his son, who plays violin for the Toledo Youth Orchestra.

"They are very, very good friends," he said of the family's support.

"But they still can't replace his mother," he added.

Contact Robin Erb at:

robinerb@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133

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