LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – An appeals court has thrown out a deportation order for a father of four who was arrested by immigration agents in Lincoln Heights while dropping his daughters off at school earlier this year.
The Board of Immigration Appeals Thursday tossed out the deportation order for 48-year-old Rómulo Avelica-González, an undocumented immigrant who was arrested Feb. 28 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
His case will now be returned to an immigration judge, who will decide whether to allow Gonzalez to stay in the U.S.
Gonzalez is originally from Nayarit, Mexico, and has been living in the United States since the 1990s. His four children are U.S. citizens.
He was pulled over by ICE agents with his wife and teen daughter Fatima in the car. Fatima, 14, captured the arrest on cell phone video.
"It's been very difficult, not only emotionally, but economically too, since he was the breadwinner," Fatima told CBS2 Friday. "He's always been part of our lives since we were born, so we have no life without him."
The video of Gonzalez' arrest went viral but Fatima, herself, has never been able to watch it.
"I don't look at it cause it brings like memories but I have it in my mind already and it's very sad the way that I saw him getting in handcuffs and being taken." says Fatima.
Gonzalez' February arrest was due to decades-old misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence and receiving stolen car tags, according to the Los Angeles Times. In June, his lawyers were able to exchange those for lesser violations.
"It is a game changer, because obviously, you look at his good moral character," Attorney Alan Diamante said Friday.
Despite Thursday's decision, Gonzalez remains in ICE custody pending his Aug. 30 hearing. If ICE does not release him prior to the hearing, then the decision will go to the judge.
Fatima told CBS 2's Randy Paige she hopes her dad is out in time by Monday to be able to take her to her first day of school.
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