Mexican-American, Catholic Taquero from Los Angeles
Rómulo Avélica González, a 48-year-old father of four daughters, has lived in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. He left his hometown of San Juan de Abajo in search of a better life for his wife Norma and their future family. All four of their daughters, Brenda, Jocelyn, Fátima and Yuleni, were born in the U.S.. To support his family’s modest life, Rómulo worked at a Mexican restaurant, one of many Immigrant laborers who form the foundation of California’s economy.
On February 28, 2017, Rómulo dropped his daughter Yuleni off at school and was on his way to drop off Fátima when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents pulled him over. Fátima, 13, recorded the arrest from the backseat of the car as she sobbed, and the video she posted went viral, sparking outrage and nationwide activism for his release.
After six months of community activism, legal filings, hearings, and pressure from local officials, Rómulo was released on bond on August 30, 2017. The experience took a toll on him, even as he encouraged other detainees not to give up, and his wife and daughters over the phone to keep up their work, studies, and hope for his freedom. His deportation order has been vacated, but his case will be reviewed by an immigration judge to consider if he should be permitted to remain in the United States.
Romulo has emerged from this ordeal emboldened and energized to continue to fight against the separation of families of all attacked communities. The Avélicas are excited to finally meet the Jamal family of Kansas in person.