Fatima Avelica could be heard sobbing as she recorded her father, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as she was heading to school on Feb. 28.
The 13-year-old and her older sister, Jocelyn Avelica, describe what life has been like since their father was detained in a video Fusion posted Tuesday titled “A Family Broken By ICE.”
“I can’t be a regular 19-year-old. I can’t,” Jocelyn said, wiping tears away. “I have to grow up, and I have to take responsibility. And I wanted to go back to school, but now I can’t. I have to see if I can find another job, take responsibility. Show [my sisters] how you have to work hard. And even though we’re going through something like this, always stand strong.”
Avelica-Gonzalez, 48, had finished dropping off his 12-year-old daughter in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles when he was detained by ICE. The father, who has been living in the United States for over 20 years, was reportedly detained over a decade-old DUI conviction and an even older incident involving an incorrect registration sticker.
Avelica-Gonzalez was granted a temporary stay, which means he would not be immediately deported, shortly after being detained, according to Emi MacLean, staff attorney for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Fatima was in the car with her mother when her father was arrested last month. During the interview with Fusion, she said she went to school that same day and her class went on a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance.
“I saw [in the museum] how people were treated before and how they were separated by race and by color,” Fatima said. “And I think that like now, nothing has changed since before.”