Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Los Angeles arrested an undocumented man with four U.S.-born children while he was dropping them off at school on Tuesday.
Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, 48, had just finished dropping off his 12-year-old daughter and was taking his 13-year-old to her school when he was stopped. The teen, who remained in the vehicle with her mother, recorded the incident, sobbing throughout.
Avelica-Gonzalez, who immigrated to the U.S. from Nayarit, Mexico more than 20 years ago, has been in the country for most of his life. He prepares food at a Mexican restaurant.
Two decades ago, he bought a car that had a registration sticker on it that did not belong to the vehicle, which resulted in his first conviction. Nearly one decade ago, he was convicted of a DUI.
"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," Emi MacLean, an attorney at the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON), told LAist. "Basically what ICE has told officials is that this man has prior convictions, as a way of essentially throwing him under the bus."
The community has come behind Avelica-Gonzalez in hopes of preventing his deportation. The NDLON urged people to call ICE officials in an effort to halt his deportation, and, the day he was expected to be expelled, the executive director of the charter school two of his daughters attend, Ricardo Mireles, held a school-wide assembly to support the family.
"Everybody on Nov. 9 was afraid," Mireles told the news site. "But it was fear of what was not known. Today was the first time it was directly one of our families, so it just made real the fears that were already there."
The support was successful. Avelica-Gonzalez was granted a temporary stay; however, he remains in detention.
"We won a short victory today — it's not the final victory," McLean said. “The struggle in his case, and in many other cases, is going to continue."