On February 28, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was arrested by immigration agents after dropping his youngest daughter off at school. His 13-year-old daughter, Fatima, posted video of the arrest online; she can be heard sobbing as her father is placed in an unmarked car.
As local television station KTLA reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Virginia Kice said that the father of four was arrested “because relevant databases indicate he has multiple prior criminal convictions.” She went on to say that the Mexican national was convicted of driving under the influence in 2009 and that a court order was issued for his removal in 2014, but the family’s attorney told KTLA that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on his deportation.
United Teachers Los Angeles issued a statement on March 3 condemning the arrest. “Seizing parents on their way to or from dropping off their children at school will lead to students staying home, disrupting their education and negatively impacting our learning communities. Documented or not, all children have the right to a public education free from fear and intimidation,” it read. “It’s wrong to target a student’s family, whether in school, on their way to school, or coming home from school.”
Avelica-Gonzalez’s arrest prompted protests in downtown Los Angeles yesterday (March 6), as supporters—including officials at his youngest daughter’s school and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network—pushed ICE To #FreeRomulo.
The video below documents the action: