A Father Whose Heartbreaking ICE Arrest Video Went Viral Could Be Deported Today (UPDATED)

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Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez drew international attention in February when ICE officers arrested him as he was dropping his daughters off for school.


The incident was caught on cellphone video by one of his daughters, Fatima, whom Avelica-Gonzalez had been helping train to run a marathon. The video, which shows Avelica-Gonzalez being handcuffed by ICE as his daughter sobs in the background, went viral, spurring a public outcry.

Now, an emergency stay from a federal appeals court that had kept Avelica-Gonzalez in the country since his arrest has expired, and the undocumented Mexican immigrant may be deported as soon as today, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Avelica-Gonzalez, who has been in the country for 25 years, settled two 20-year old misdemeanor convictions in June—one for driving under the influence and one for receiving stolen car tags. It’s these decades-old misdemeanors that prompted the ICE deportation order in the first place.

As the Times reported, his lawyers had hoped that if Avelica-Gonzalez pled guilty to lesser vehicle violations, ICE might release him and cancel the deportation order, but that hasn’t happened.

Not long after his arrest, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote a letter to ICE’s field director in the city expressing his “opposition to an enforcement approach that expends limited resources on operations that divide families with little or no public safety benefit.”

Garcetti also asked ICE to stop identifying themselves as Los Angeles police officers. In Avelica-Gonzalez’s arrest video, the agent who detained him drove an unmarked car and wore a jacket that had “POLICE” written across the back.


Avelica-Gonzalez’s deportation case has been a textbook example of Donald Trump’s immigration policy: Deporting undocumented immigrants who, in prior administrations, were considered low-priority, and giving ICE full support in wrangling these detainees however they can.

However, Avelica-Gonzalez’s family still remains hopeful. At a news conference last week reported on by the Times, his daughter Fatima told reporters:

“My dad is no criminal — in fact, he’s a caring and hardworking father,” Fatima said. “He didn’t come to the U.S. looking for trouble, he came in search for a better life for his family. Yes, he made mistakes, but don’t we all?”


In an email to Splinter, an ICE spokesperson declined to provide any further comment about the case.

Update, 8/8/17: Avelica-Gonzalez was granted another emergency stay while immigration authorities review his case.

Staff writer, The Root.