Family members are worried about the possible deportation of a 30-year-old father of two from Sylmar who was recently detained by ICE after living in the U.S. since being brought here when he was a toddler.
An attorney for the man, Raymond Torres, says her client was arrested in violation of his rights on Jan. 11 after being pulled over for a traffic stop. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says their agents were specifically targeting the 30-year-old for immigration enforcement.
Torres’ lawyer Erika Roman Maury argues agents should never have pulled Torres over without a warrant, and she now wants the case against Torres thrown out.
“ICE is abusing their power. They’re doing this all across the nation,” Roman Maury said outside a court hearing for Torres on Thursday. “There was no reasonable suspicion to pull him over. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. … He was dropping his kids off at school.”
ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said Torres was targeted for arrest by deportation officers with ICE’s Los Angeles-based fugitive operations team. All ICE arrests are “targeted” and never “random,” Haley said.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” Haley said in an emailed statement to KTLA. “However, as ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”
Torres’ sister, Abigail Arellano, said her brother was headed to Fenton Charter School in Lakeview Terrace to drop off his son when he was arrested. Torres was told he was arrested because of his criminal record, Arellano said.
Haley said in the ICE statement that Torres’ criminal history includes DUI and felony narcotics possession.
But Roman Maury said Torres has “a few misdemeanors” and no felony record.
Advocates for Torres say he poses no threat or harm to the community, and Roman Maury said her client has learned from past criminal convictions, which she painted as mistakes of youth.
Torres is the father of a 3- and 7-year-old, and has been living in the U.S. since he was brought here by his grandmother. He hardly speaks any Spanish and has no family in Mexico, Arellano said. He works as a manager at a solar panel company in Chatsworth and is a youth football coach.
“He is well respected in the community. Other parents put their children in his hands on a daily basis,” his attorney said. “He teaches them discipline, endurance, courage and respect.”
After a court hearing in downtown Los Angeles Thursday morning, Torres was allowed to post $15,000 bond, Roman Maury said.
The federal immigration judge did not find Torres to be a danger to the community and actually “wished him well,” the attorney said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up on Torres’ behalf.
KTLA’s Erika Martin contributed to this article.