VENTURA, Calif. - Supporters of an Oxnard man with no criminal record who was detained by ICE agents turned out for his deportation hearing Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Over and over the crowd chanted "free Raul" as they stood on the steps of the Immigration and Naturalization Service building in downtown.
"We're not going to stop until our community is protected," one supporter said.
Their friend and colleague, 36-year-old Raul Gomez, appeared for his first hearing since agents had detained him on Aug. 29. The agents were looking for someone else when they came across Gomez and took him into custody despite his lack of a criminal record.
Raul Gomez's brother, Guilebaldo Gomez, said it is unjust that ICE detained his sibling, who owns a tree trimming business in Oxnard.
He said for the last eight years, Raul Gomez has been a leader in the Mixteco community in Ventura County, sitting on the board of directors for the Mixteco Indigena community organizing project. He also spoke out against alcohol abuse and in support of the environment.
"He's a community member. He's a valuable person to the community, and we want to stop seeing families from continuing to be separated," said Aurora Garcia, with Children's Partnership.
The judge granted Raul Gomez a $3,000 bond, and he was released later in the evening. However, his fight to stay in the country is barely beginning.