LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Yuleni Avelica broke down into tears as she spoke about her father. The 12-year-old and her three sisters haven’t seen their father, Romulo Avelica, in more than five months, since he was arrested by immigration agents.
“I’m really scared; I’m really worried for him because I know that without him, our life is never going to be OK and without us his life is never going to be OK,” Brenda Avelica said.
ICE agents took Avelica into custody in late February in Highland Park after he dropped off one of his daughters at school. The 49-year-old restaurant worker was wanted after he ignored a 2014 calling for him to be deported. Lawyers for Avelica settled the two decades old misdemeanor convictions that prompted his arrest — driving under the influence and receiving stolen car tags. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of vehicle-code violations.
Lawyers for Avelica filed an emergency stay of removal after he was arrested. That stay expires Saturday. Avelica could be deported as soon as Monday.
The Avelica sisters, along with their mother and a group of supporters protested in Pershing Square, hoping their father won’t be deported.
“I feel anxiety every single day; I just want my dad back. My life is so different, I feel like my life is ruined now,” Jocelyn Avelica said.
The case gained international attention after Avelica’s daughter captured his arrest on cellphone video.
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“We want to bring awareness to the community at large including the Department of Homeland Security,” attorney Alan Diamante said. “We want them to consider the documents that we provided them in determining whether or not they should release him and stay his deportation.”
His family is calling on the community to band together and support their cause to release Romulo Avelica from ICE custody and reunite him with his wife and daughters.