Father taken away by US immigration officials while dropping off his 13-year-old daughter to school

Fatima Avelica is heard sobbing as she filmed the moment her dad was arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the back seat of his car 

Chloe Farand
Saturday 04 March 2017 15:24
13-year-old girl films undocumented father being arrested on the school run

A father of four was arrested and taken away by US immigration officials in front of his 13-year-old daughter as he was dropping her off to school.

Fatima Avelica is heard sobbing in a video she recorded showing her undocumented father being handcuffed by two officers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and taken away in an unmarked black car.

The schoolgirl filmed the scene from the back seat of her father’s car, who was driving her to school in the neighbourhood of Highland Park in Los Angeles, ABC7 reports.

A few moments earlier, the 48-years-old father named as Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, had dropped off his other daughter at the Academia Avance Charter School half a mile away from where he was arrested.

Described by as a father of four, Mr Avelica is an undocumented immigrant reported to be from Mexico, who has lived in the US for more than 20 years and worked in a restaurant.

Speaking to CNN, Fatima who wept as she captured her father’s detention, said: “I was scared and sad at the same time. I never thought I would have to experience something like this in my life ... on my way to school."

Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration has seen undocumented immigrants being detained and deported since his inauguration.

Under the US President’s immigration enforcement directives, undocumented immigrants who “have been convicted of any criminal offence”, including those who “have abused any programme related to receipt of public benefits” can be deported.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement Mr Avelica “was targeted for arrest because relevant databases indicate he has multiple prior criminal convictions”.

They quoted a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in 2009 and an outstanding order of removal dating back from 2014.

Mr Avelica-Gonzalez remains in custody.

The Academia Avance Charter School said in a post on Facebook Mr Avelica’s family were requesting a certification from Los Angeles Police Department to support their legal motion for their father to be granted a visa.

A petition has been started urging ICE not to deport the father of four and a protest has been organised for Monday in front of Los Angeles Immigration Court.

In the Facebook page of the event, organisers wrote: “Together we showed the new administration that we will not be intimidated. That ICE's campaign of terror will only embolden us more to fight every single deportation. And we will not be silent.

“Today, Romulo's fight is not yet done! ICE continues to try to deport him quickly and easily. He is now being held over a hundred miles away at an immigration jail. We must show ICE that they cannot get away with this. We will fight and we will stand proudly with our communities. We will not be afraid. Together we will resist! And we can win!”

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