A candlelight vigil was held Thursday night in support of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, who was apprehended by ICE agents as he was taking his daughters to schools in Lincoln Heights and Highland Park. The family watched and recorded the incident on video.
Avelica-Gonzalez, an undocumented immigrant who is in the country illegally, had already dropped off one daughter on Tuesday morning and was headed to Highland Park to drop off another at Academia Avance Charter when he was picked up by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. One person was heard sobbing through the video recorded by one of the daughters as ICE agents put Avelica into their vehicle and drove away.
An ICE spokeswoman told NBC 4 that Avelica-Gonzalez had been arrested because he has been convicted multiple times for previous criminal offenses, including a DUI. An order to remove him from the country was issued in 2014.
Family members told LAist that Avelica-Gonzalez, 48, a native of Nayarit, Mexico, has been in the U.S. for about 20 years. They said his criminal offenses had been minor and did not warrant deportation. They are working with an attorney to obtain a visa that would allow Avelica-Gonzalez to remain in the country.
A message posted on the school’s Facebook page notified staff and families that Avelica-Gonzalez had not been deported but was being detained. “With the help of elected officials, community advocacy groups, clergy, attorneys, and the support of our Avance family, we mobilized to assist in delaying the process,” the school said on Facebook.
Update: The family of Avelica-Gonzalez had been quoted by several media outlets as saying that they were one or two blocks away from the Highland Park school when the ICE arrest took place. However, ICE told the L.A. Times that the Avelica-Gonzalez was arrested in the 3200 block of Pasadena Avenue in Lincoln Heights.
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