Original Story at ATTN.com
March 2, 2017
by: Thor Benson
A 48-year-old father named Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Los Angeles this week while he was dropping his daughters off at school — and the emotional scene was caught on camera.
Avelica-Gonzalez is an undocumented Mexican immigrant who has been in the United States for 25 years. He and his wife had just dropped off their 12-year-old daughter — and were about to drop off their 13-year-old daughter — when ICE intercepted them, according to LAist.
“My dad dropped off my first sister and then when he turned around, they turned on their light,” Avelica-Gonzalez’s 19-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, told LAist. “My dad was really scared. He didn’t want to pull over, but he did. As soon as he did, one car went in front of his truck and one in back of his truck. They took him out and they arrested him. My little sister was still in the car, she’s 13. My mom was also there.”
Avelica-Gonzalez has four daughters, all born in the U.S. An immigrant defense organization, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), is calling on people to sign a petition and demand ICE release him.
“It is alarming that ICE followed a father to school and arrested him there while his daughter was in the car,” Emi MacLean, an attorney with NDLON, told ATTN:.
“He has lived in the US for over 25 years,” MacLean said. “His whole life and family are here. These are egregious actions that show a total disregard for the terrorizing effects of ICE’s actions. Or, worse, an intention to terrorize a community.”
According to LAist, an old DUI conviction and an expired vehicle registration are being used to justify his deportation. The family has been told by immigration officials that Avelica-Gonzalez has been granted a temporary stay, however, meaning he won’t be deported immediately.
“ICE’s actions serve to intimidate and destroy families and communities,” MacLean said. “We must fight back, and in this case, Romulo’s family and community fought back. He is still here, and we are going to do everything in our power to resist these destructive actions.”
Avelica-Gonzalez’s situation is representative of bigger issues connected to President Donald Trump’s harsh crackdown on undocumented immigrants. ICE arrests have been rising since Mr. Trump took office, with so-called Dreamers and others with clean criminal records caught in the net. New policies from the administration will mean even more aggressive deportation actions going forward, meaning there will be many more families confronted with scenarios like this.
“President Trump says he will only deport criminals, ‘bad hombres.’ However, we knew this meant any undocumented person would be considered a criminal,” Jose Lopez, an organizer for the immigrant defense group Dream Team LA, told ATTN:. Trump said someone having a DUI from 10 years ago and improper registration over 20 years ago wouldn’t generally make them a “criminal” in most Americans’ eyes. “But to nativists and nationalists, the core of Trump’s support, coming across the border at one year old makes you a criminal,” Lopez said.
Lopez pointed out that statistics show undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the average person in the U.S.
“ If widespread immigration violence exists in our nation, it is committed by the hands of ICE who commit violence by taking away fathers, mothers, never to be seen again,” Lopez said. “It is a violence against children that occurs every day and over many decades. ”
ATTN: reached out to ICE for comment but did not receive a response.