A 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles recorded the heartbreaking moment when immigration officials arrested her father, an undocumented immigrant, as he was taking her to school this week.
ABC News reports that 48-year-old Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was on his way to drop his daughters off at Academia Avance in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles on Tuesday when he was stopped by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents wearing police jackets.
His teenage daughter, Fatima Avelica, used her cellphone and recorded the moment her father was handcuffed and placed in a dark-colored vehicle by federal agents.
The footage, which was obtained by an ABC station in Los Angeles, has been shared on social media hundreds of times, and ABC News reports that one of the man’s other daughters, Brenda Avelica, said that her father has been in the U.S. for two decades and has four children, two of whom are adults.
“It’s really hard what we’re going through,” Brenda Avelica told KABC 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 on Friday that Avelica-Gonzalez was taken into custody Tuesday during a vehicle stop by officers with the agency’s Los Angeles-based fugitive operations teams.
“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. “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.”
According to Kice, Avelica-Gonzalez remains in ICE custody.
The executive director of Academia Avance charter school, Ricardo Mireles, gathered two dozen people to show support for the family outside the Hollenbeck Community Police Station in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Mireles told KABC, “I think the impacts are going to come in terms of, ‘Hey, how do we pay rent? And how do we move forward?’ We want to be able to find resources to help this family go through this process.”
Read more at ABC News.