Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, the undocumented immigrant whose arrest by ICE agents as he dropped his daughters off at school drew international attention, has been released after six months and reunited with his family, bringing to a close one chapter of his ongoing fight to stay in the United States.
The 49-year-old Avelicia-Gonzalez walked out of the Adelanto Detention Center in San Bernardito, CA, shortly after 5 PM on Wednesday evening, after an immigration judge ordered him released on a $6,000 bond earlier that day, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. There he was met by crowds of reporters, well-wishers, and his family.
“I will savor every minute with my family,” Avelica-Gonzalez said after the decision, according to a statement given to the Daily News. “I will fight for my right to remain with them and in this country. And I will never again be able to look away from how deportations are tearing families apart.”
However, Avelica-Gonzalez’s release does not mean his struggle is over. While a judge ruled that he is not an imminent flight risk, and allowed him to return to his family for the time being, Avelica-Gonzalez still faces the threat of deportation. His attorneys say that since the initial charges which led to his arrest this past February were themselves vacated earlier this summer, his standing deportation order should be reversed as well.
Avelica-Gonzalez’s arrest became a rallying point for immigration activists, after video of ICE agents handcuffing and detaining him while one of his four daughters sobbed in the background was released.
“The main message we’re trying to convey is this is not the end of the story,” Ricardo Mireles, executive director of Academia Avance school where several of Avelica-Gonzalez’s daughters attend, told the Daily News upon his Wednesday release. “He’s just been released but he’s standing for immigrants everywhere (for whom) their due process is not being respected.”
Speaking with the paper, Avelica-Gonzalez’s attorney said the next step is to convince an immigration judge that his expulsion from the United States would present undue hardship to the rest of the family. As of Wednesday evening, no date for Avelica-Gonzalez’s next court hearing had been set.