Nearly a month after their father, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, Fatima and Jocelyn Avelica spoke about life without him.
“Families belong together,” Fatima told Fusion. “They’re not
supposed to be separated.” The 13-year-old recorded her father’s arrest when he
was dropping her off at school on his way to work on February 28. Her loud sobs
were heard by people across the country and she became the poster child for
families separated by ICE.
Fatima recalled noticing a suspicious car at the corner of her home in Los Angeles that morning. Her father knew they were being followed by immigration officials, despite their jackets identifying them as police, Fatima previously told CNN.
Avelica-Gonzalez, who lived in the US for over 25 years, was detained by ICE because of two convictions.
Two decades ago, the Mexican native unknowingly purchased a car with an incorrect registration sticker. The 48-year-old undocumented man was also targeted for a decade-old DUI.
“I [saw] my sister running inside where we work, and she was hysterical, and she kept telling me, ‘We have to go! We have to go!’” Jocelyn said.
“I just looked at her and all I said was, ‘ICE?’ I dropped everything I was doing, and I got in the car and … that’s when she told me they [took] my dad.”
Jocelyn knew that her father could possibly be deported. “We knew the day was going to come … especially with the election,” she previously told CNN. “We just weren’t prepared. … We thought if we don’t talk about it, it’s not going to happen.”
Now with her father gone, Jocelyn must take on larger responsibilities within her family. She said:
“I can’t be a regular 19-year-old. I can’t. 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.”
After the traumatic morning, Fatima still went to school where she had a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance.
saw [in the museum] how people were treated before and how they were separated
by race and by color,” she said. “And I think that … nothing has changed since
Jocelyn had a few choice words for president Donald Trump and his aggressive immigration policies that target millions.
you want to make America great again, how about you start encouraging people to
go to school, to work hard,” she said. “Doesn’t matter where you’re from.
Because this country would not be great without immigrants.”