We’re bigger than Trump,’ says daughter of immigrant arrested by ICE near LA school

Scores of people converged in downtown Los Angeles to call for the release of an undocumented father who was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers last week near a school in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood.

Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez made national headlines after his 13-year-old daughter, Fatima Avelica, recorded video showing him being detained Feb. 28 by ICE agents after he dropped off a younger daughter at the Academia Avance public charter school campus in Lincoln Heights.



“My dad is very strong, and that’s why we are here, to be strong for him and as a community, we can do big things,” another daughter Jocelyn Avelica, 19, said at the rally. “We’re not leaving. We’re bigger than Trump. We’re bigger than ICE — all of us together.”

Avelica-Gonzalez, who has lived in the country for more than 25 years and has four U.S. citizen daughters, was targeted for arrest because he has several prior criminal convictions, including a DUI conviction from 2009 and an outstanding order of removal dating back to 2014, ICE officials said last week.



After surveillance was conducted to confirm his identity, he was arrested during a vehicle stop about a half-mile from his daughter’s school, ICE said. No one else was detained during the stop.


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Avelica-Gonzalez’s supporters waved signs that read “Sanctuary is for all” and “ICE out of LA” as people chanted “Free Romulo” and “Not one more deportation.”

The Free Romulo rally, which was held outside the Los Angeles Immigration Court building in Pershing Square, was organized by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Academia Avance public charter school, which has three L.A. campuses, and community partners.

“Shouldn’t every school be (involved?),” said Academica Avance Executive Director Ricardo Mirales, who was flanked by a number of students, before the rally. “(It’s) to support our family, and in supporting that family we’re supporting all our families.”

After a petition was filed Feb. 28, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay, or postponement, of Avelica-Gonzalez’s removal at about 5:30 p.m. the same day, which was around the same time he was set to be deported to Mexico, said attorney Peter Greyshock of Diamante Law Group, which is representing the family. The federal appellate court is expected to determine whether or not to extend that stay in the coming weeks, he said.

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Chris Alexakis