Bay City News Service
Published 9:33 pm, Friday, March 16, 2018 SAN JOSE (BCN)
Family and community members rallied in support of Mexican immigrant this afternoon in front of San Jose City Hall just three days before a decision on whether he is deported to Mexico or allowed to return to his home in San Jose with his family.
His wife Lourdes Barraza and two of their daughters stood by local faith and county leaders as they sang, spoke on his behalf and read letters sent to an immigration judge that speak for his character in hopes he will be released from the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, where he has been since October.
Immigrant Fernando Carrillo was on his way to drop his youngest daughter off at daycare one morning when U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents followed him from his home to the daycare and arrested him, his wife said.
As ICE arrests occurred throughout Northern California over the weekends, friends and family members of 33-year-old Fernando Carrillo paced the sidewalk on Monday in front of the federal immigration office in San Francisco. Allie Rasmus reports
Barraza said in an article which appeared on Medium that she wrote just a month after his detainment that Carrillo had noticed a couple of cars following him and pulled into a shopping center. He was immediately surrounded by ICE officers and was taken to San Francisco, and later that night, to Richmond.
Carrillo's wife and daughters were devastated because he had been deported once before in 2012. That time he was picked up on a Friday and transferred to Tijuana by Sunday, Barraza said.
"I couldn't believe it could all be happening again," she said.
The immigration judge asked for a three-week extension to make the decision on Carrillo's immigration status when Carrillo appeared in court on Feb. 26.
Barraza said that the judge stated that he had never seen so much evidence in favor of a defendant, so she was confused why her husband had not yet been able to come back to their home in San Jose.
"Judge Park doesn't understand that these three weeks are like an eternity for our family," Barraza said. "We all feel that we are also prisoners with Fernando; we have not been able to go on with our lives as we should."
Barraza and her eldest daughter Isabella, 15, spoke of the emotional and financial tolls that the detainment of Carrillo has taken on them.
"I've come to worry about things that I shouldn't have to, such as where we are going to be living in the next few months or how my mom will come up with rent," the teenager said.
Isabella said that she has completely disconnected with friends and family and had a hard time relating to people at school, causing her to pursue home schooling since her father was put in detention.
Barraza said in her blog post that she knows Isabella needs therapy because of the absence of her father from their household, but she cannot afford it. On the same token, deporting Carrillo means that the government would be deporting their whole family, since he supported them, she said.
Teachers of the couple's 11-year-old and 4-year-old daughters both spoke through shared letters about how bubbly the children were before their father was arrested, but how they can physically see that it has changed their attitudes and weakened their well-beings.
Two of Carrillo's former employers and one teacher at his daughter's preschool sent in statements which were read aloud that, as Barraza said, did not label him as a criminal in an effort to lock him up which she believes is what has happened to a lot of immigrants in recent months.
The comments described Carrillo as a family man who worked hard to be able to provide for his household, always enthusiastic when he got to speak about his wife and daughters to friends and family and willing to help out in any situation, whether that was fixing a technical problem or providing an extra hand in his daughter's classroom.
One of the employers, who was not named by Barraza when she read the testimony aloud, is a former immigrant from Vietnam and a 24-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department.
Since Carrillo's arrest, an online petition has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures and more than 500 people have called to ask for his release, according to a representative from Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, the organization that sponsored today's rally.
"Already we have seen in other cases such as Floricel Liborio, who was released this week from nearly a year of detention, that higher courts and community members have been holding immigration judges accountable," Sarah Lee with Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity said.
"We are here to send a message to Judge Park that he can stand on the right side of history," Lee said.
Maricela Gutierrez of the community-driven organization Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network came and spoke of the resources that SIREN offers immigrants including free legal clinics on Wednesdays and the opportunity to have general immigration questions answered on Thursday.
Also, SIREN has a Rapid Response phone line that can be texted to get information about ICE activity and immigrant rights. The services are available by texting "SIREN" to (201) 468-6088.
"What kind of message are we sending to the community if one day your neighbor is welcome and the next day they are not?" Gutierrez said. She asked Judge Park to "have a conscience, have a heart, and think about the ramifications that a decision can have."
Lee said that if Carrillo is freed on Monday the group plans on going to the detention facility to welcome him back home, but if he remains there "everyone will need some time to heal."