Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, an undocumented father of four U.S.-born children, has lived in this country for more than 20 years. On Tuesday, he was dropping his daughters off at school, as he does every morning. He and his wife had already dropped off their 12-year-old daughter and were headed to drop off her 13-year-old sister next when Avelica-Gonzalez was detained by immigration officials a block from his daughter’s school in Highland Park.
“My dad always takes my little sisters to school,” Jocelyn Avelica, Avelica-Gonzalez’s 19-year-old daughter told LAist. Jocelyn, who was at work at the time, said that the car that detained her father had been following him since he had left his house that morning.
“My dad dropped off my first sister and then when he turned around, they turned on their light,” Jocelyn said. “My dad was really scared. He didn’t want to pull over, but he did. As soon as he did, one car went in front of his truck and one in back of his truck. They took him out and they arrested him. My little sister was still in the car, she’s 13. My mom was also there.” Avelica-Gonzalez’s wife and 13-year-old daughter watched as ICE officials, wearing jackets that just said “POLICE,” arrested him.
This video, taken by Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez’s 13-year-old daughter, shows what it was like inside the family’s car during the arrest:
“If we allow this as a community to continue, then we create an environment where children are afraid to go to school, parents are afraid to drop their children off at school, and people are living in a culture of fear,” Emi MacLean, an attorney with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) told LAist.