One moment, her father was dropping her off at school. The next, she watched U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents escort him into a black car and take him away (video below).
Fatima Avelica, a 13-year-old Californian, caught the moment on video from inside her father's car. It shows ICE officials, who are clad in police jackets, taking 48-year-old Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez into custody, while his daughter sobs loudly and films the video.
"I was scared and sad at the same time," Fatima told CNN on March 3. "I never thought I would have to experience something like this in my life ... on my way to school."
Avelica-Gonzalez, a father of four, is an undocumented immigrant who had been living in the U.S. for more than 20 years. He is facing deportation for a nearly 10-year-old DUI conviction, as well as an incident that occurred nearly 20 years ago in which he accidentally bought a car with the wrong registration, according to Ricardo Mireles, the executive director of Fatima's charter school, notes KABC.
"I think the impacts are going to come in terms of, 'Hey, how do we pay the rent and how do we move forward?'" Mireles said at an event to support the family. "We want to be able to find resources to help this family go through this process."
As of March 3, Avelica-Gonzalez was still in custody, reports CNN.
"We knew the day was going to come ... especially with the election," Avelica-Gonzalez's 19-year-old daughter Jocelyn said, referencing President Donald Trump's controversial stances on enforcing and bolstering up immigration policies. "We just weren't prepared ... We thought if we don't talk about, it's not going to happen."
She said that she knows her father, who would drop his kids off every morning before going to work in a restaurant, "is not a criminal."
"I've always said we all do things that we learn from..." she added. "...He is our father, a hard worker, an honest man."
ICE officers confirmed that members of a Los Angeles-based fugitive operations team conducted surveillance on Avelica-Gonzalez to locate and identify him before they making the arrest. ICE officers also stated that he had been listed for deportation for the last three years for multiple criminal convictions.
"It's really hard what we're going through," Avelica-Gonzalez's daughter Brenda Avelica said. "I never thought we'd actually go through something like this. It's terrible to feel and see your family being broken apart."