Wrenching Video Captures ICE Snatching California Dad As He Drops His Daughter Off at School
Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was just a few blocks away from his daughter's school when he was pulled over, cuffed and detained by immigration officials as his wife and daughter sobbed in the backseat.
"My dad dropped off my first sister and then when he turned around, they turned on their light," Jocelyn Avelica, Avelica-Gonzalez's 19-year-old daughter 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, an undocumented 48-year-old father of four, is a native of Nayarit, Mexico. He has lived in the U.S. for over two decades and works as a food preparer at a Los Angeles Mexican restaurant. His children are all U.S. citizens.
His 13-year-old daughter shot the dramatic video in Highland Park, a Latino majority neighborhood in Los Angeles. After being placed in an unmarked vehicle and taken to a nearby detention center, family members were informed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Avelica-Gonzalez would be deported later that day.
"Think about the horrific nature of that situation," said Emi MacLean, a staff attorney for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). "It's been really devastating for the family."
Prior to detention Tuesday, Avelica-Gonzalez had two convictions; a DUI from nearly a decade ago and one involving the purchase of an improperly registered vehicle.
MacLean is deeply concerned for families in the area going forward.
"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," she added.
Avelica-Gonzalez has since been granted an extended stay by ICE officials, largely due to pressure from NDLON. He remains in a detention center in outside the city.