SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Garden Grove taxi driver who fled religious persecution in India nearly two decades ago has lost the most recent phase of his effort to remain in the United States with his wife and children.
Gurmukh Singh is a father of two who is married to a U.S. citizen. He applied for asylum in the United States in 1999.
At the time, his case was moved to immigration court, but he failed to appear - he says that was because of his lawyer at the time.
The judge ordered his deportation.
Unaware of the order, Singh got married - his wife is now a U.S. citizen - and they had two girls.
After his wife began the process of helping him become a citizen in 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained Singh for five months based on the prior deportation order.
On Monday, with the support of community groups and some lawmakers, he went to the ICE office to ask for a stay of removal to remain in the country.
But ICE says courts at all levels have upheld his removal order, which led to him being detained Monday.
ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, sent this statement: "While criminal aliens and those who pose a threat to public safety will continue to be a focus, DHS will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement."
His supporters are in shock, because they say he has no criminal record, has strong family ties and has complied with ICE's orders.
"The supervisor did explain to me that under President Trump's current executive orders, any person like Mr. Singh who has an outstanding order of deportation is a priority," said Singh's attorney Monica Glicken.
Singh's daughter, Manpreet Saini, said it is difficult to face the possibility of splitting up their family.
"The last thing any daughter wants to ever see is her father break down in front of her emotionally and watching that happen all over again was very heart-wrenching and it has emotionally gone to the entire family," she said.
OC father fighting deportation order