Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, an undocumented man with four U.S.-born children, was arrested by immigration officials while dropping his kids off at school.
On Tuesday, Avelica-Gonzalez, who has been in the U.S. for more than 20 years, dropped off his 12-year-old daughter and was on his way to drop off his 13-year-old child when immigration official detained him a block from his daughter's school in Los Angeles, the LAist reports.
"My dad always takes my little sisters to school," Avelica-Gonzalez's 19-year-old daughter Jocelyn Avelica told LAist. Avelica said the immigration officers had been following him in a car since he left the house that morning.
Avelica said her dad was "really scared" and didn't want to pull over. Immediately after he pulled over, immigration officials wearing police jackets took him out of the car and arrested him. His 13-year-old daughter and wife were in the car, and his daughter began to tape the incident. She can be heard painfully sobbing throughout her father's arrest.
The National Day Labor Organizing Network mobilized to make calls to ICE officials to halt Avelica-Gonzalez's deportation. According to LAist, Avelica-Gonzalez is 48 years old and from Nayarit, Mexico. He prepares food at a Mexican restaurant and has been in the U.S. for more than half of his life.
LAist also reported that Avelica-Gonzalez has two prior convictions, a DUI that is nearly a decade old and a conviction from 20 years ago when he bought a car that had a registration sticker on it that did not belong on the car.
"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 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 day of the deportation, Ricardo Mireles, executive director of the charter school two of his daughters attend, held a school-wide assembly in solidarity with the family.
"Everybody on Nov. 9 was afraid," Mireles told LAist." 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 daytime detainment follows a pattern of intimidating broad daylight arrests that have characterized Trump-era raids. Mireles, however, was concerned that ICE officials wore jackets identifying them as police. The practice is technically legal, but Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti released a letter urging ICE agents not to identify themselves as police.
"We have worked for decades in L.A. to build stronger trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. Misleading practices like these undermine the good faith and spirit of cooperation that is so integral to our city's safety and security," Garcetti said in a statement to LAist.
According to the NDLON, Avelica-Gonzalez was granted a temporary stay on Tuesday night, but remains in detention.
"We won a short victory today — it's not the final victory," McLean said, LAist reported. "The struggle in his case, and in many other cases, is going to continue."