Man gets a stay from de­por­ta­tion

Fa­ther ar­rested by ICE af­ter drop­ping off his daugh­ter at school gets emer­gency stay.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Joel Ru­bin and An­drea Castillo

Fa­ther be­came a cause cele­bre when he was ar­rested af­ter drop­ping off his daugh­ter at an L.A. school.

An im­mi­gra­tion ap­peals court Monday granted a last-ditch re­prieve to a man whose ar­rest and loom­ing de­por­ta­tion have made him a cause cele­bre in the coun­try’s roil­ing de­bate over il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Ro­mulo Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez, 49, was ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary in Los An­ge­les by im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers mo­ments af­ter he dropped off one of his four daugh­ters at school. An­other of the girls who was in the car at the time recorded a video of the ar­rest.

The video, and Avel­i­caGon­za­lez’s story of work­ing and rais­ing a fam­ily dur­ing more than two decades in the United States, drew na­tional at­ten­tion and was held aloft by crit­ics of Pres­i­dent Trump’s ag­gres­sive stance on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion as an ex­am­ple of how the govern­ment’s de­por­ta­tion poli­cies were too sweep­ing.

Faced with the pos­si­bil­ity that he would be re­moved from the coun­try im­me­di­ately be­cause of an out­stand­ing de­por­ta­tion or­der is­sued pre­vi­ously by an im­mi­gra­tion judge, lawyers for Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez filed at the time an emer­gency stay of re­moval with the U.S. 9th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals, which tem­po­rar­ily spared him from de­por­ta­tion.

The court re­viewed the case and de­clined to make the stay per­ma­nent, putting Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez at risk of be­ing de­ported to Mex­ico as early as Monday.

But the Board of Im­mi­gra­tion Ap­peals, the high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive body in the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion court sys­tem, stepped in, grant­ing a re­quest from Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez’s at­tor­ney for an­other emer­gency stay of re­moval. The de­ci­sion prevents his de­por­ta­tion while the board re­views Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez’s case.

Alan Dia­mante, Avel­i­caGon­za­lez’s at­tor­ney, said he has asked the board to send the case back down to an im­mi­gra­tion judge in or­der to re­con­sider whether a de­por­ta­tion or­der should have ever been is­sued.

Dia­mante said in previ-

ous im­mi­gra­tion pro­ceed­ings that a judge is­sued the or­der af­ter de­cid­ing Avel­i­caGon­za­lez was in­el­i­gi­ble to re­main in the coun­try be­cause of a 1998 con­vic­tion for re­ceiv­ing stolen car tags. The de­ci­sion came at a time when im­mi­gra­tion laws on these types of cases were in flux, and sub­se­quent changes to the law made clear Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez should have been el­i­gi­ble to re­main, Dia­mante said.

In June, Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez made plea deals to va­cate the 1998 con­vic­tion and a 2008 con­vic­tion for driv­ing un­der the inf lu­ence. His lawyers had hoped that with the changes to his crim­i­nal record, Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment would grant his re­lease and can­cel his de­por­ta­tion or­der. That didn’t oc­cur.

Since his ar­rest, Avel­i­caGon­za­lez and his wife have also ap­plied for a spe­cial type of im­mi­grant visa re­served for vic­tims of vi­o­lent crimes, Dia­mante said. He de­clined to dis­cuss de­tails of the crime, cit­ing the cou­ple’s pri­vacy and a pos­si­ble on­go­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez has been in the United States il­le­gally for more than 25 years, rais­ing his daugh­ters with his wife in the north­east Los An­ge­les neigh­bor­hood of Lin­coln Heights, where he also worked as a cook at a res­tau­rant.

“I don’t even want to think that they’ll de­port me. What would I do with half my heart and mind in an­other place? Half here, half there,” he said in an ear­lier in­ter­view of the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing to restart his life in Mex­ico.

Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez is be­ing held at the Ade­lanto De­ten­tion Fa­cil­ity near Vic­torville. A hear­ing on whether to grant him bail pend­ing a de­ci­sion by the ap­peals board is set for Aug. 30, Dia­mante said.

The case has crys­tal­lized the fierce de­bate over the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies on im­mi­gra­tion, which did away with the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fo­cus on de­port­ing se­ri­ous crim­i­nals and put nearly all of the es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally at risk of be­ing de­ported.

Sup­port­ers of the pres­i­dent’s hard-line ap­proach em­pha­size that im­mi­grants like Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez broke the law by com­ing to the coun­try il­le­gally and fur­ther un­der­mined any claim to live in the U.S. when they com­mit­ted crimes, how­ever mi­nor.

Im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cates, mean­while, have as­sailed the pres­i­dent’s calls for mass, in­dis­crim­i­nate de­por­ta­tions as not only un­re­al­is­tic but also harm­ful to the coun­try’s econ­omy, which re­lies on im­mi­grant la­bor. More­over, ad­vo­cates have high­lighted how the govern­ment’s po­lices stand to break up an un­told num­ber of fam­i­lies like Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez’s, whose Amer­i­can­born chil­dren are cit­i­zens.

Avel­ica-Gon­za­lez’s de­ten­tion has drawn re­ac­tion from lo­cal of­fi­cials. In a March 15 let­ter to the Los An­ge­les field of­fice di­rec­tor for ICE, Mayor Eric Garcetti said: “I have con­sis­tently ex­pressed my op­po­si­tion to an en­force­ment ap­proach that ex­pends limited re­sources on op­er­a­tions that di­vide fam­i­lies with lit­tle or no pub­lic safety ben­e­fit.”

And in a state­ment Monday, Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil­man Gil Cedillo said: “We are still hope­ful that Ro­mulo will be re­leased, as he is a pro­duc­tive mem­ber of our com­mu­nity and the sole bread­win­ner for his fam­ily. His de­por­ta­tion would be detri­men­tal to his fam­ily and un­nerv­ing to the en­tire com­mu­nity. We re­main united and await his re­turn home with his fam­ily where he be­longs.”

Mar­cus Yam Los An­ge­les Times

RO­MULO AVEL­ICA-GON­ZA­LEZ is be­ing held at the Ade­lanto De­ten­tion Fa­cil­ity near Vic­torville. He has been in the U.S. il­le­gally for more than 25 years, rais­ing his daugh­ters with his wife in Lin­coln Heights.

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