On Feb. 28, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, an undocumented father of four, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials while dropping his daughters off at school in Los Angeles. According to LAist, Avelica-Gonzalez's 19-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, said the immigration officials were "following him since he had left his house that morning." Jocelyn also revealed that her father was initially afraid to pull over, but he did anyway, and that's when he was arrested in front of his daughter and his wife.
The harrowing footage of the moment Romulo was detained was caught on camera by his 13-year-old daughter, who can be heard crying uncontrollably as she watches her father get escorted into the police car. According to LAist, Romulo is 48 years old and was born in Nayarit, Mexico. He has reportedly lived in the United States for more than 25 years and was a food preparer at a Mexican restaurant before being detained.
Emi MacLean, an attorney with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, put out a plea for outraged citizens to call ICE officials and let them know why they think Romulo should not be deported. Romulo has been granted temporary stay in the country and will not be immediately deported. Instead, Romulo was sent to a detention center where he will remain until his fate is determined.
"We won a short victory today — it's not the final victory," MacClean told LAist. "The struggle in his case, and in many other cases, is going to continue."
MacLean also shared that Romulo has a prior DUI arrest from almost 10 years ago and another conviction from over 20 years ago for buying a car that "he did not realize had a registration sticker on it that did not belong on the car." MacLean argues that Romulo's criminal history should not be a factor in whether or not he is able to stay in the country.
"Those are his criminal convictions in over 25 years in this country. And ICE is saying this is why he's a 'bad' immigrant and should be deported," MacLean told LAist. "If we allow this as a community to continue, then we create an environment where children are afraid to go to school, parents are afraid to drop their children off at school, and people are living in a culture of fear."