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Photos: Angelenos Rally Against The Deportation Of Father Detained By ICE
Supporters and activists joined the family of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez in Pershing Square on Monday afternoon to rally against his deportation. Avelica-Gonzalez, a Mexican national who has lived in this country for more than 25 years, was arrested by immigration authorities on Tuesday morning while dropping his daughters off at school. A video of his arrest—filmed by his sobbing 13-year-old daughter Fatima Avelica—helped bring widespread attention to the case.
The 48-year-old father of four American-born daughters was ordered deported in 2014, likely because of a decade-old DUI conviction, according to The New York Times.
“This man was not an immediate danger to the community. The situation is very scary and alarming for so many of our families and there are a lot of implications for that. I think the federal actions are deliberate and they are trying to send a message," L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis told the Times.
Activists and family members worked to deploy a rapid response network to make calls to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials in the immediate aftermath of Avelica-Gonzalez's arrest, and were successful in receiving a stay of deportation that Tuesday night. Avelica-Gonzalez is now awaiting his fate at a privately-owned detention facility about two-and-a-half hours northeast of Los Angeles in Adelanto. The high desert immigrant detention center where Avelica-Gonzalez is housed is run, like many other immigrant detention facilities, by GEO Group, the nation's second largest for-profit prison operator. (This is your daily reminder that private prisons are going to make ungodly amounts of money off human suffering, as the Trump Administration ramps up the American deportation machine).
Family members and supporters of Avelica-Gonzalez gathered in Pershing Square at 3 p.m. on Monday, directly across the street from a building that houses a local ICE field office and some immigration courts. The family's lawyer, immigration attorney Alan Diamante, decried ICE's decision to detain Avelica-Gonzalez in front of his young daughter, calling it "not just illegitimate, but immoral."
"I think the state, whether it's the state of California or the United States, should always consider the best interest of children [when acting]," Diamante said. "We have to send a message to the government that this is inappropriate."
Peter Greyshock, another one of the family's attorneys at Diamante Law, said that chances of success for Avelica-Gonzalez's case were "slim", but that they would continue to fight. According to Greyshock, the attorneys are trying to obtain a U visa for Avelica-Gonzalez, which would allow Avelica-Gonzalez to remain in the country. U visas are nonimmigrant visas granted to victims or witnesses of crimes (and their immediate family members) who assist law enforcement with their investigations. Citing privacy concerns, the attorneys declined to go into further detail about the circumstances that would allow for the U visa, beyond clarifying that a family member, not Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez himself, would be the direct recipient of the visa.
You can contribute to a fundraiser for Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez's family here.