Lawyers Try New Legal Tactics to Free Father Detained by ICE in Highland Park After He Dropped Off Daughter at School

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Students from Academia Avance Charter school show support with Yuleni Avelica, far right, the 12-year-old daughter of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, an immigrant who has been detained by officials since February. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Lawyers for a father detained by immigration officials after dropping off his child at school are trying new legal tactics in hopes of winning his release.

They want to get the decade-old misdemeanor conviction that prompted his arrest wiped from his record, believing it will strengthen his case.

Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, 49, a Mexican citizen who has lived in the United States for 25 years, has remained in immigration detention for more than three months. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pulled him over and detained him in Highland Park, six blocks from his 12-year-old daughter’s Lincoln Heights school and minutes after he had dropped her off. Another daughter in the car with him, now 14, sobbed as she filmed the encounter. –

Avelica-Gonzalez at the time had two misdemeanor convictions. One was for a DUI in 2008. Another was for receipt of stolen property when a friend gave him a vehicle registration tag not issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Before 2015, immigrants living in California illegally were ineligible for driver’s licenses, a requirement for registering a vehicle.

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