Jose Luis Garcia, a legal United States resident who has spent the past five decades living in this country, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on his front porch this week, while his shocked family stood in their home and watched.
Garcia, 62, was having a cup of coffee and watering his lawn when at least eight ICE agents swooped in and handcuffed him around 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, his daughter Natalie told the Mercury News.
“I didn’t know they were ICE at that moment,” Natalie said. “It just happened so fast and there were so many of them. I was so confused.”
It was only after they’d left with her father that she realized what had happened.
“I asked for a warrant,” Natalie told KABC. “They had no warrant. They said it wasn’t a criminal offense, it was administrative. They had to take him. It was due to a domestic violence dispute back in 2001.”
In an email to Splinter, ICE confirmed Garcia’s arrest, and hinted that despite his legal status, he may still be deported:
Mr. Garcia, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested Sunday by deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Databases reveal that Mr. Garcia has past criminal convictions that make him amenable to removal from the United States. Mr. Garcia is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings, where an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) will determine whether or not he has a lawful basis to remain in the United States.
ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. However, as ICE leadership has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.
While the statement did not specify what the nature of his “past criminal convictions” was, Natalie confirmed to the Mercury News that her father had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault nearly two decades ago, and had long since completed his sentence, which included anger management courses.
ICE did not respond to Splinter’s questions about why Garcia had been targeted for arrest so long after his misdemeanor conviction.
Speaking with KABC, Natalie described her father as a model resident and the sole provider for his family. “He’s a taxpayer. He’s a homeowner. He’s been a homeowner,” she said. “He’s worked in the same job for more than 35 years.”
“I feel bad, I’m still confused. I do not know why this happened,” Garcia’s wife Dolores said in an interview with Univision’s Los Angeles affiliate. (Splinter is owned by Univision.) “It’s the hardest thing for me, when [my granddaughter, whom Garcia had been raising] asks me, ‘What time does my dad arrive?’”