An Immokalee man said many people in his community are afraid after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pulled him over this week. He had three co-workers in his vehicle who were then detained by ICE.
Roger Villareal said he and a few of his co-workers stopped at El Taquito restaurant Monday morning to grab breakfast on their way to work. As they left in his van, he suddenly saw flashing lights behind him, so he pulled over. But he was the only one who had identification on him, and he has a strong opinion about what happened next.
“They just went into my vehicle, and started pulling people out,” Villareal said. “I think it’s like racial profiling; five Mexicans in a van.”
One of those co-workers is Jesus Garcia, a father of three, including a three-month old boy.
“He’s never been away from the kids,” said Jesus’ wife Mayra. “He’s always been here with the kids.”
She said Jesus is a “Dreamer” who came to the U.S. as a child. But Mayra is an American citizen.
Immigration attorney Pablo Hurtado said that means there is a good chance that someone like Jesus would be able to come home – especially if he has stayed out of legal trouble since coming to the U.S.
“All of these things can form relief and stop deportation, and perhaps even enable them to obtain a green card,” Hurtado said.
He said anybody within the borders of the U.S. – whether legally or illegally – has Constitutional rights.
“That’s because our form of government recognizes that all are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” Hurtado said. “So that includes someone who may be out-of-status.”
While Mayra is hoping her husband will be home soon, his friend Roger Villareal said many people in Immokalee have been on edge since the arrests.
“It’s crazy right now,” Villareal said. “It feels like a ghost town. All the people are scared, they’re hiding.”
ICE told Fox 4 that their agents don’t typically detain people at random, using targeted enforcement instead. They do confirm that their agents made several recent arrests in Immokalee.