Deon Jones, whose son Neville Hewitt is a linebacker for the Houston Texans, was led off a plane in handcuffs and a waist chain a week ago after she flew to Atlanta from her native Jamaica for a new hearing on a 2014 deportation order.
Her attorney said he was told Jones would remain free with an ankle monitor until that hearing, but she was instead thrown into immigration detention—for how long, no one knew.
The Daily Beast exclusively reported on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s action against Jones on Saturday. Then, at midday on Sunday, Hewitt got a phone call from the same area code as the Stewart Detention Center, where she was being held.
Hewitt, who lives in Atlanta in the offseason, knew the area code because he had repeatedly dialed the facility only to have nobody answer.
“I said, ‘I better take this one,’” he told The Daily Beast.
He answered and heard his mother’s voice. She asked him for his address, but could say nothing more before a Stewart supervisor came on the line and said Jones was being released and they needed his address to get the paperwork started.
“She’s just excited to get out of there,” Hewitt told The Daily Beast.
Hewitt arrived at Stewart in the late afternoon. Osorio reported that she was freed by 8 pm.
“She’s out!” the lawyer announced.
Osorio cautioned that Jones still faces a tough legal fight, perhaps years long. But she will be at liberty in the meantime, including when Hewitt begins his next season with the NFL.
“I would pay money to watch her watch him play at the peak of his career,”
Jones moved to America when she was 12. She was ordered deported a decade ago after serving nine years in a Georgia state prison after police discovered 40 grams of cocaine and some marijuana in the trunk of a car in which she was a passenger.
Following a prolonged legal battle, immigration lawyer Ben Osorio successfully argued to an appeals court that what Georgia deemed drug trafficking in her case was not an “aggravated felony” by federal standards, and should not have mandated her deportation.
Osorio said Sunday that he does not think it’s a coincidence that Jones was released so soon after the Daily Beast’s article.
“I think it made a huge difference,” he said.
Hewitt was getting ready for the Jan. 20 playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens when he got the news that his mother was arrested after she landed in Atlanta. She was already at Stewart by the time she was able to call him.
She had been held in another immigration facility for a year and a half before being deported to Jamaica and found the experience considerably more trying than state prison.
Both Hewitt and Osorio worried that Jones would find a second stretch intolerable and just ask to be deported—which would mean she would be barred from ever returning to the U.S. and would never see Hewitt play pro football.