Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY -

check­ing in with ICE of­fi­cers March 17 that, un­less he left the coun­try on his own, he would likely be taken into cus­tody at his next check-in, then sched­uled for June, Hu­jber said.

Gon­za­lez, 36, moved to Palm Beach County from Mexico about 20 years ago. The West Palm Beach res­i­dent has no crim­i­nal record and is mar­ried to a U.S. cit­i­zen with whom he has three Amer­i­can-born chil­dren. Gon­za­lez has checked in reg­u­larly with im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties who, un­til re­cently, have granted him a stay to re­main liv­ing and work­ing in this coun­try, Hu­jber said. But the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has taken a hard line on im­mi­gra­tion. That mes­sage was clearly de­liv­ered by the ICE of­fi­cers at the March 17 meet­ing, Hu­jber said. “They said, ‘This is Trump time now. The party of Obama is over.’ ”

The June meet­ing has since been scooted for­ward to April 21 at ICE’s of­fice of En­force­ment and Re­moval Op­er­a­tions in Mi­ra­mar, which is not a good sign for his client, Hu­jber said. April 21 is a Satur­day, which means there was a mis­take and the meet­ing will likely be sched­uled for an­other day the fol­low­ing week, Hu­jber said.

In Palm Beach on Tues­day, Gon­za­lez said he wasn’t ask­ing any­thing of the coun­cil, which has no con­trol over his fate. “I just want to thank you for hav­ing wel­comed me so kindly to your town, a town that I dearly love,” he said. “If the worst hap­pens, I will al­ways be grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity you have given me.”

The au­di­ence ap­plauded.

Gon­za­lez is known in the com­mu­nity by his mid­dle name, Javier. He and his wife, Tara, have three daugh­ters, ages 6, 8 and 11. The cou­ple mar­ried in 2006 af­ter meet­ing at the land­mark Worth Av­enue restau­rant where Gon­za­lez has worked since 2009.

He came to Palm Beach County from Mexico when he was 15 to live with his brother, us­ing what he thought was a valid visa. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school, Gon­za­lez re­turned to Mexico in 2001 to visit his par­ents. When he came back to South Florida, he was told at the air­port that the visa was not valid. Gon­za­lez was de­ported and banned from re­turn­ing to the United States for five years, ac­cord­ing to Hu­jber. But Gon­za­lez re­turned to this coun­try il­le­gally within the five-year time frame. De­spite his mar­riage to a U.S. cit­i­zen, the il­le­gal cross­ing has been an ob­sta­cle to his ef­forts to ob­tain a green card.

“When he came back again, that is the prob­lem,” Hu­jber has said. “That is what makes this case more dif­fi­cult.”

Hu­jber said Gon­za­lez’s case has been com­pli­cated by what hap­pened in Hous­ton, when he was de­ported un­der an “ex­pe­dited order of re­moval.” Hu­jber said he’s at­tempt­ing to get that order re­voked.

“I made a dumb mis­take,” Gon­za­lez said Tues­day.

Gon­za­lez was is­sued an “ad­min­is­tra­tive stay of de­por­ta­tion” in 2016 and has been rou­tinely check­ing in with Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cers in Broward County ever since.

A pe­ti­tion bear­ing nearly 40,000 sig­na­tures Wed­nes­day on the web site urges the U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fice in Hous­ton, among oth­ers, to stop the de­por­ta­tion.

At Tues­day’s meet­ing, the coun­cil unan­i­mously voted to ask Coniglio to write a let­ter in sup­port of Gon­za­lez. It was not im­me­di­ately clear to whom the let­ter will be di­rected. But prom­i­nent Worth Av­enue land­lord Burt Han­dels­man sug­gested the town send a let­ter to Trump.

“A let­ter from this coun­cil to our pres­i­dent, who shares this town with us, might be ex­tremely help­ful,” Han­dels­man said.

Han­dels­man called Gon­za­lez “the Amer­i­can dream ... I think he’s a ma­jor as­set to this town.”

Rene Sil­vin, vice chair­man of the town’s Land­marks Preser­va­tion Com­mis­sion, said Gon­za­lez “de­lights all [Pizza Al Fresco] guests with his charisma, his kind­ness and his im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice.”

Coniglio said Gon­za­lez ex­em­pli­fies the val­ues of hard work, ded­i­ca­tion and com­mu­nity ser­vice. “We wish you well and are grate­ful for you ser­vice to our com­mu­nity,” she said.

Coun­cil­woman Margaret Zei­d­man said she wishes Gon­za­lez not just luck but “rea­son, com­pas­sion and in­tel­li­gence” at the up­com­ing meet­ing with im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers. “It’s al­ways a de­light to see your smil­ing face as we en­ter your restau­rant for din­ner,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Gonzalez fam­ily

Fran­cisco Javier Gonzalez, man­ager of Pizza Al Fresco, em­braces his fam­ily: his wife, Tara Gonzalez, and daugh­ters Aviana, left, Bianca and Ka­rina, right. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment could send him back to Mex­ico, sep­a­rat­ing his fam­ily.

Wil­liam Kelly / Daily News

Burt Han­dels­man, left, speaks on be­half of restau­rant man­ager Fran­cisco Javier Gonzalez at the coun­cil meet­ing.

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