Highland Park dad taken by ICE may be deported; family speaks out

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A father taken into custody by immigration agents while dropping his daughters off at school may be on the verge of being deported, and his family is pleading for him to be allowed to stay.

"I miss my dad, we need him here with us," daughter Yuleni Avelica cried as she pleaded for authorities not to deport her father.

Romulo Avelica's family and supporters rallied in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday as he remained in federal custody.

MORE: Mayor Garcetti speaks out about ICE arrest of Highland Park father

The 48-year-old undocumented father of four was picked up by Ice agents as he was dropping his daughter off at school.

His 13-year-old captured the arrest camera.

"My dad is no criminal, in fact he's a caring and hard-working father. He deserves to come home to us," said daughter Fatima Avelica.

MORE: LA officials urge ICE agents to stop identifying themselves as "police"

Romulo Avelica, who has been in the U.S. for more than 25 years, is being deported due to a decades-old DUI conviction and another minor incident 20 years ago.

His attorney said the family has applied for a U visa for victims of violent crimes, but has been told that the application won't be considered until his emergency stay with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals expires Aug. 7.

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While being dropped off at school with her sisters, 13-year-old Fatima Avelica recorded her undocumented father being picked up by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We just don't know how long it will take. We need assurances that he will not be deported. More so, we need assurances he will be released," said immigration attorney Alan Diamante.

His family fears he will be deported before his case is even reviewed.

"I feel bullied by the immigration system, I feel betrayed by my country of birth," said daughter Brenda Avelica. "My dad is in extreme suffering, his health is deteriorating. I am scared for his life."

The family was urging federal officials to review all applications and all aspects of his case before he is deported.
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