13-year-old Fatima Avelica can be heard sobbing inconsolably in the video she recorded of her father, an undocumented immigrant, being arrested as he was dropping Fatima and her sisters off at school (video below).
Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, a 48-year-old father of four, was dropping two of his daughters off at school on the morning of Feb. 28 when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in "POLICE" jackets pulled over their vehicle and arrested him in front of his wife and Fatima.
An official statement released by ICE read, "Mr. Avelica was targeted for arrest because relevant databases indicate he has multiple prior criminal convictions, including a DUI in 2009, as well an outstanding order of removal dating back to 2014."
Avelica-Gonzalez has been in the U.S. for 20 years and all four of his children are American.
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"It's really hard what we're going through," Avelica-Gonzalez's daughter Brenda told KABC. "I never thought we'd actually go through something like this. It's terrible to feel and see your family being broken apart."
Ricardo Mireles, executive director of the Los Angeles charter school attended by two of Avelica-Gonzalez's daughters, spoke to LAist about the arrest, saying, "The irony is that the eighth graders went to the Museum of Tolerance today."
"Everybody on Nov. 9 was afraid," Mireles added. "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 National Day Laborer Organizing Network organized a petition after Avelica-Gonzalez's arrest. The petition calls for ICE to put a hold on the deportation of Avelica-Gonzalez. The Immigrant Youth Coalition, and undocumented immigrant rights group, organized an urgent call to action asking people to call the ICE Los Angeles field office and "express clearly that they must not deport Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez."
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According to KABC, the ICE released the following statement concerning the incident:
Officers with one of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Los Angeles-based Fugitive Operations teams took Mr. Avelica into custody Tuesday morning. Mr. Avelica was targeted for arrest because relevant databases indicate he has multiple prior criminal convictions, including a DUI in 2009, as well an outstanding order of removal dating back to 2014. After conducting surveillance to confirm his identity, the officers arrested Mr. Avelica during a vehicle stop in the 3200 block of Pasadena Avenue, approximately a half mile from the charter school described in the related social media post. No one else was detained during the vehicle stop. Mr. Avelica remains in ICE custody at this time.