For more than a decade, 38-year-old Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco has been a model citizen in West Frankfort, Illinois, a coal-mining town that heavily supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election. According to KSDK NBC News, not only does Hernandez manage a local Mexican restaurant, La Fiesta, but he’s also very active in community cleanup projects, local fundraisers, and has provided community support measures like meals for working firefighters.
Unfortunately, Hernandez, who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s, never obtained legal status, a problem that caught up to him in early February.
On February 9th, Hernandez was arrested by Immigration Customs and and Enforcement.
Though ICE did not give an official reason for his recent arrest, the department did acknowledge a 2007 drunk driving conviction, NBC reports. Friends of Hernandez told the New York Times that Hernandez quit drinking after that 2007 arrest. If Hernandez is deported, he will leave behind a wife and three children.
While many locals believe in immigration reform, and are pro-legal immigration, the arrest of Hernandez has caused many pro-Trump locals to confront the realities of deportation. Local business owner Lori Barron echoed this sentiment in the New York Times, saying, “I think people need to do things the right way, follow the rules and obey the laws, and I firmly believe in that.” However, in the case of Hernandez, Barron conceded that the town of West Frankfort has largely benefited because of Hernandez’s contributions, saying, “I think he may have done more for the people here than this place has ever given him.”
Several members of the Pro-Trump community have come out in support of Hernandez.
JOE BRUSKY / GAGE SKIDMORE / FLICKR
Since his arrest, several prominent officials, including the town’s mayor and police chief, have spoken out to support Hernandez. One of Hernandez’s friends, Tim Grigsby, told NBC he’s the kind of guy you’d want to “pattern your life after.” Friends have insisted that their support for Hernandez is not a political issue, but a personal one. Grigsby told NBC, “If any judge were to look at this case, I don’t know how anybody could say that this individual isn’t worthy of becoming a citizen of this country.”