(LOS ANGELES) — A girl recorded federal immigration agents arresting her father, an unauthorized immigrant, as he was driving her to school in Los Angeles this week.
Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, 48, was about to drop his daughters off at Academia Avance charter school in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles on Tuesday when he was stopped by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents clad in police jackets.
One of his daughters, 13-year-old Fatima Avelica, used her cellphone to capture the moment authorities handcuffed her father and placed him in a dark-colored vehicle.
The cellphone video has been shared hundreds of times on social media. ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles obtained the footage and spoke with another of the man’s daughters, Brenda Avelica, who said her father has been in the U.S. for two decades and has four children, two of whom are now adults.
“It’s really hard what we’re going through,” Brenda Avelica told KABC-TV on Thursday. “I never thought we’d actually go through something like this. It’s terrible to feel and see your family being broken apart.”
ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice confirmed to ABC News that officers with one of the agency’s Los Angeles-based fugitive operations teams took Avelica-Gonzalez into custody during a vehicle stop Tuesday morning.
“Mr. Avelica was targeted for arrest because relevant databases indicate he has multiple prior criminal convictions, including a DUI in 2009, as well an outstanding order of removal dating back to 2014,” Kice said in a statement to ABC News today. “After conducting surveillance to confirm his identity, the officers arrested Mr. Avelica during a vehicle stop in the 3200 block of Pasadena Avenue, approximately a half mile from the charter school described in the related social media post.”
The father remains in ICE custody at this time, according to Kice.
Ricardo Mireles, executive director of Academia Avance charter school, gathered about two dozen people outside the Hollenbeck community police station in Los Angeles on Thursday to show support for the family.
“I think the impacts are going to come in terms of, ‘Hey, how do we pay the rent? And how do we move forward?'” Mireles told KABC-TV. “We want to be able to find resources to help this family go through this process.”
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