Los Angeles, CA – Family and community leaders will gather outside of LA Superior Court Friday morning to support Romulo Avelica, the father of 4 US citizen daughters in ICE custody since February 28. His arrest while dropping his daughters off at school has garnered international outrage. Mr. Avelica is asking a court to vacate a minor decades-old conviction.
WHAT: Press Conference Followed by Court Hearing on Post-Conviction Relief
WHEN: Press Conference Friday, June 2 at 8:30 am // Hearing at 9:30 am
WHERE: Shortridge Foltz Courthouse, 210 West Temple Street (Hearing in Department 45)
WHO: Romulo’s family, his children’s school, educators, and community
Diana Vargas Avelica, Mr. Avelica’s high school aged niece, stated: “My uncle deserves a second chance at life with his family.” Diana considers Mr. Avelica a father figure, but will graduate next week as the valedictorian of her senior class at Academia Avance with Mr. Avelica more than 3 months at Adelanto with the threat of deportation. Diana continued, “I want to know that my city will be one where improper convictions do not destroy a person’s life.”
Mr. Avelica’s old conviction has been used by ICE as justification for his attempted deportation; denied him immigration relief; and resulted in his entry into deportation proceedings in the first place. Under California law, it should be vacated. Yet the City Attorney – LA’s top prosecutor – is aggressively resisting Mr. Avelica’s efforts. A judge will review the case Friday.
“The City Attorney’s aggressive efforts to challenge Mr. Avelica’s case is a waste of city resources, and illustrates a lack of coherent policy regarding minor convictions. Los Angeles should not be out of step with the rest of the state,” said Emi MacLean, an attorney at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and part of Mr. Avelica’s legal team.
Rev. Francisco Garcia, Rector at Holy Faith Episcopal Church and on the Board of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), affirmed, “This city must live our values. We must know that the city’s prosecutors are not actively or inadvertently furthering the deportation of our neighbors.”
“Los Angeles must act to protect our city’s residents,” said Daniel Barnhart, Secretary of the United Teachers Los Angeles. “No parent, no student, no family member should be afraid to come to school. No one should fear that an old minor conviction will lead to permanent separation from their family.”
Mr. Avelica’s case has garnered tremendous support, with 19 Members of Congress, the Mayor, 11 City Council Members, 3 of LA County’s five County Supervisors, the President of the Board of Directors of the LAUSD, and scores of religious leaders all joining the family and community in calling for ICE to stay Mr. Avelica’s deportation. More than 40 community leaders asked Mr. Feuer to support the vacatur of Mr. Avelica’s conviction in accordance with state law.