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Protest held over man detained by ICE as he dropped kids at school

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Fatima Avelica, center, the 13-year-old U.S.-born daughter of undocumented worker Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez who recorded her father's arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while dropping her off at school, is comforted by her sister Jocelyn, left, at a rally urging her father's release in downtown Los Angeles on Monday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Fatima Avelica, center, the 13-year-old U.S.-born daughter of undocumented worker Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez who recorded her father's arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while dropping her off at school, is comforted by her sister Jocelyn, left, at a rally urging her father's release in downtown Los Angeles on Monday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

March 7 (UPI) -- Dozens of people held a rally in Los Angeles' Pershing Square in support of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, an undocumented immigrant detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while he dropped his children off at school.

The agents detained Avelica-Gonzalez on Feb. 28. Fatima Avelica, his U.S.-born 13-year-old daughter, captured the incident on video, and can be heard crying in the background.

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Up to 100 people, including his family, were at the rally, KTLA 5 reported. Fatima was at the rally on Monday but was too distraught to speak. Another one of Avelica-Gonzalez's daughters spoke at the event.

"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," she said.

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Avelica-Gonzalez remains in ICE custody. In 2009, Avelica-Gonzalez was convicted of driving under the influence. In 2014, a court ordered his removal from the United States. An ICE representative said he was detained "because relevant databases indicate he has multiple prior criminal convictions."

Avelica-Gonzalez's lawyer said his client, a citizen of Mexico, has lived in the United States for more than 25 years.

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"I was in grade school when he arrived in this country. He's paid his taxes, and he and his family have raised four beautiful U.S. citizen daughters," lawyer Peter Greyshock said. "[They're] strong, independent women who are making the best of their community and rising to leadership levels."

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On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to strip federal grant money from so-called "sanctuary cities" -- U.S. municipalities that protect undocumented immigrants from federal prosecution. Trump's order also seeks to hire 10,000 additional immigration officers, to build more detention centers and to prioritize undocumented immigrants for deportation.

Greyshock said Avelica-Gonzalez has applied for a U-visa, which will keep him in the United States under special circumstances but the approval process could take up to four years.

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