For more than two decades, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez — an immigrant from Mexico — has called the U.S. his home. On Tuesday, February 28th, the 48-year-old father of four had just dropped off his 12-year-old daughter at a Los Angeles area school when he was directed to pull over by two vehicles that had apparently been tailing him.
After getting out of the car, Avelica-Gonzalez’s wife watched on from the front seat as ICE officials arrested her husband. From the backseat, his 13-year-old daughter, Fatima Avelica, captured the ordeal on camera, sobbing as her father was driven away.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the arrest took place barely a half mile from his younger daughter’s school.
Avelica-Gonzalez, who is originally from Nayarit, Mexico, LAist reports, has lived in the U.S. for the past 25 years.
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Emi Maclean, the immigration attorney working with the detained’s family, said that Avelica-Gonzalez’s deportation stems from two prior convictions. One was from a 2008 DUI case, and the other occurred in 1998 when Avelica-Gonzalez received a stolen vehicle registration tag, which he couldn’t obtain otherwise because he couldn’t legally acquire a driver’s license at that time.
ICE acted on a 2014 order for Avelica-Gonzalez’s deportation.
Avelica-Gonzalez’s immediate deportation was delayed thanks to the efforts of the community.
Maclean told Democracy Now! that ICE officials had planned to put Avelica-Gonzalez on a bus to Tijuana the same day he was detained. With the help of the community and his attorney, “an emergency stay of removal” was filed on behalf of Avelica-Gonzalez, the Los Angeles Times reports. Advocates have been fighting to keep Avelica-Gonzalez in the country and a rally has been scheduled for March 6th.
As Maclean told Democracy Now!, the community’s involvement is very important to keeping the father of four in the country, saying:
[P]art of why it has been so important to have the community rally around Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez’s case is to demonstrate that no one is disposable. That we need to contest every single case.
Since the arrest, Avelica-Gonzalez has been detained in a facility in Adelanto, California.
Avelica-Gonzalez’s family has not yet been able to visit him in the facility in which he is being held thanks to a quarantine. For now, the family awaits to find out what will happen to their father and husband, who, according to the Los Angeles Times, is the sole income provider in the family.
[h/t] Immigrant arrested by ICE after dropping daughter off at school, sending shockwaves through neighborhood