Things That Matter

He Was Taking His Children To School When ICE Stopped And Arrested Him Half A Mile From His Daughter’s School

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.

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DEMOCRACY NOW! / YOUTUBE

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.

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STOP Romulo’s Deportation / Facebook

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.

Julia Wick / YouTube

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

READ: She Spoke At A Press Conference About Her Family Being Detained And Was Picked Up By ICE

ICE Subpoenas Denver Officials Requesting Info On Undocumented Migrants But State Lawyer Says They’re Not Valid

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ICE Subpoenas Denver Officials Requesting Info On Undocumented Migrants But State Lawyer Says They’re Not Valid

@workpermitcom / Twitter

It is the right, under the constitution, of state and local governments, including law enforcement, to refuse to cooperate with federal law. In other words, if the federal government issues a mandate, local officials do not have to comply. That is why some cities abide by Sanctuary policies to protect undocumented immigrants that are being persecuted by government agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, ICE isn’t bowing down to the constitution and is taking matters to the courts. 

Earlier this week, Homeland Security has issued a subpoena to Denver law enforcement to get information on three Mexican nationals and one Honduran who were previously in custody. 

“Since we have no cooperation at the Denver justice center, we are modifying our tactics to produce information,” Henry Lucero, deputy executive associate director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, said, according to the Associated Press

According to the AP, Denver officials have 14 days to respond to the subpoena in three of the cases, but in the other, they have three days to respond. ICE officials allege that all four foreign nationals have been in jail for sexual assault and child abuse and have been previously deported.

“In the past, we had full support. We collaborated in the interest of public safety,” Lucero added. “This is a drastic change. And one ICE is forced to do and puts other agencies on notice that we don’t want this to happen. We want to protect the public.”

Officials at the Denver mayor’s office said they would not comply with the demands of ICE because the paperwork issued by ICE are not proper subpoenas but rather administrative forms and not legal document signed by a judge. 

“The documents appear to be a request for information related to alleged violations of civil immigration law,” Chad Sublet, Senior Counsel to the Department of Safety in Denver, wrote, according to Time magazine. “Based on these facts, we are denying your request.”

Sublet also said that Denver officials have collaborated with ICE on information previously with other requests. He showed documentation that proves Denver responded to “88 requests by ICE between October and December of last year.”

Despite the support of local officials of Sanctuary policies, the majority of those cities have been struck by ICE as they have conducted numerous raids there, including in Denver. 

Cities including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago all have protections in place for undocumented people, but that has only fueled ICE to conduct raids there and elsewhere. Last year in September, ICE conducted raids in Colorado and Wyoming and, within four days, arrested 42 undocumented immigrants. 

“It is our belief that state sanctuary policies [do] not keep the community safe,” John Fabbricatore, the acting director of the Denver ICE field office, said last year, according to KDVR news. 

“We don’t believe deportation is ever the answer to what criminal activity might be going on,” Jordan García, with the Colorado Rapid Response Network, said in response to the raids

In 2017, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock signed a law that stated law officials would not comply with ICE in any capacity. 

The Denver Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act was first signed unanimously by the Denver City Council, which was then signed by Mayor Hancock. The mandate “bans city officials from asking an arrested individual’s immigration status.”

While some city officials have prohibited the collaboration between local officials and federal agencies, that has not stopped some from working with ICE to arrest undocumented immigrants. 

Last year in September, the Milwaukee Police Department assisted ICE agents in the detainment of a local resident who was undocumented. Even though Milwaukee does not have a Sanctuary policy in place, Police Chief Morales had previously said a year before they would not collaborate with ICE. 

“I promised to bring back the public trust,” Morales said in 2018. “My job is to bring (back) trust from the community and work with them; my job is not to go out and enforce those types of laws.”

Those statements are why people were outraged that local Milwaukee officers assisted ICE in the detainment of an undocumented father. 

“Chief Morales is gonna love to see police collaborating with ICE,” a bystander said last year as he witnessed ICE and local police working together during that arrest. The Mayor of Milwaukee and police stood on the same grounds that police would “not inform federal immigration officials of whereabouts or behavior of any suspect illegal immigrant.” However, that’s only if a person has never been arrested for a serious crime. 

READ: Woman Records Scene Inside Family Car As ICE Pulls Husband Out While Daughters Cry And Scream

Migrants At This ICE Detention Center Are Being ‘Looked After’ By An Alleged Neo-Nazi And This Sets Off All The Alarm Bells

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Migrants At This ICE Detention Center Are Being ‘Looked After’ By An Alleged Neo-Nazi And This Sets Off All The Alarm Bells

Jerry Ryans / Flickr

Much has been discussed (but never enough, of course!) about how ICE is hiring for-profit corporations to run its detention facilities. These facilities have been witness, according to activist organizations and detainees themselves, to horrific acts of abuse and negligence. Those housed in ICE detention centers often see their mental and physical health deteriorate. Suicides are common, as are fatal and near-fatal complications product of medical mishandling. Anyone in their right mind would ask how this is possible. Aren’t migrants and refugees being cared for by other human beings who should have at least a minimum level of empathy?

It would be irresponsible to generalize and imply that all personnel at detention centers lack compassion, but a recent VICE investigation reveals that there is something seriously wrong with at least one individual who holds a senior position in a detention facility in Nevada, and who has previously worked in government prisons. 

Travis Frey, a captain at a for-profit detention center has posted in a Neo-Nazi website, where he said that “Deep down, no one really gives a shit about racism.” 

Credit: USDHS

The 31-year-old man is a captain at the Nevada Southern Detention Center, which is run by CoreCivic, a highly profitable company contracted by ICE to house undocumented migrants. The fact that someone with a white nationalist agenda is in charge of guaranteeing the safety of undocumented migrants, most of whom are non-white, is troubling. VICE also revealed that Frey sought to establish a white nationalist chapter in his area. He served in the Marines between 2006 and 2008. 

Frey joined the Neo-Nazi website Iron March in 2013 and posted at least a dozen times.

When he posted the bulk of his messages on Iron March between 2016 and 2017, Frey was working at a CoreCivic run prison in Indianapolis. This facility was also authorized to house ICE detainees. The site has been shut down, but its content was leaked in November.

Iron March was fertile ground for far-right ideology and bigotry, as VICE reports: “The foundations of violent neo-Nazi groups such as Atomwaffen were established in Iron March chats, and white nationalist leaders like Matthew Heimbach have said they were radicalized by the time they spent on the site.”

Frey also expressed his wish to get like-minded fascists in Indiana together, which amounts to basically opening a chapter of white nationalists. He wrote in Iron March: “I’m trying to find all the NS [National Socialist] guys in Indiana to get together for a meet and greet.”

Frey used the screen name “In Hoc Signo Vinces”: there literally is a fascist looking after Brown and Black migrants.

Through some personal details posted on the site, including his phone number and email, VICE was able to identify Frey. His Latin username means “In this sign thou shalt conquer” and is used by the military around the world. Interestingly, it was also the title of the American Nazi Party’s manifesto, which is quite revealing when it comes to figuring out Frey’s politics. He posted virulent messages such as: “any ‘man’ who gets that upset about ‘virulent racism’ couldn’t knock out a tooth even if I tied my hands behind my back.”

He also spit out some conspiracy theories, of course, and people on Twitter are questioning how he ended up in this job in the first place.

Other things he said included “heads of world governments and the entertainment industry are under Satanic influences” and “Dark, dark shit goes on in the corridors of power and these rats need to be purged from their nests”. Frey self-proclaimed as a fascist, by the way. VICE tried contacting him but he hung up on them and CoreCivic has not responded to the allegations. Frey has also deactivated his LinkedIn account. 

And others are very upset at how ICE detention centers seem to attract the worst.

There will be a lot of PR work ahead for both CoreCivic and ICE as they try to explain how and why Frey got his job. Are there screening mechanisms in place? Is an officer’s past online presence scrutinized? All of these questions will eventually need some answers.

Racism seems to be an ever-present problem in the corrections industry. Prisons themselves are micro social systems highly defined by race relations. Based on ethnicity, Black and Brown populations are still the biggest in the United States correctional system, and migrant detention facilities are overwhelmingly occupied by people of color.

Revelations such as Frey’s past (it is unclear whether he still holds these beliefs) reveal the vulnerable position in which these populations live. Having guards who may have a racial bias can certainly put detainees at risk of being abused.