LA immigrant father fighting deportation released on bond

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A Lincoln Heights father of four who was arrested last February after dropping off one of his daughters at school in Highland Park has been released from detention on bond.

Romulo Avelica Gonzales was held for six months at an immigrant detention facility in Adelanto as he fought to stay in the country. Advocates who went to Adelanto to monitor his hearing said he was granted a $6,000 bond. He was released early Wednesday evening.

"He is looking forward to being reunited with his family," said his attorney, Alan Diamante, before his release. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they could not comment on the case.

Avelica's case became a celebrated cause after he was arrested, which one of his daughters videotaped. Advocates saw his case as heralding a return to more aggressive immigration enforcement in place prior to the Obama administration. Under Obama, immigration agents focused on those with serious criminal records.

Avelica only had two minor convictions from years earlier, a 2008 DUI and a 19-year-old conviction for receiving stolen property, a vehicle registration sticker that was not legally his. Both convictions, which made him deportable, were set aside by a judge earlier this year.

He won his bigest victory earlier this month, when the Board of Immigration Appeals vacated the deportation order against him. The board sent his case back to the Los Angeles immigration court to  be reconsidered. Meanwhile, Avelica will now be free to return home.

Brenda Avelica, 24, said her father struggled during the six months he was detained. She said he is diabetic, and although he received treatment, his health declined.

“When he went in there, they had to start him on medication, because his sugar would continue to be really high,” she said. 

The younger Avelica, who is the second-oldest of four children, attended the bond hearing with her father. She said her father, who had a translator, didn’t immediately understand that the judge said he was eligible for release. 

When the news sank in, though, “he was so happy,” she said.

“He’s so excited to come out and thank everyone and be with his family and be with all the people that have been there with us through everything,” Brenda Avelica said.

Attorney Diamante said Avelica's case remains pending, however, and will take time to resolve.

This story has been updated.

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