Victor Alvarez calls on local leaders to help bring his father back to the U.S. after he was deported in February. Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
CSULB police stopped Jose Alvarez and his son Victor near the Beachside College Residence Halls the night of February 21 for a broken headlight. A warrant check revealed an old deportation order for a 21-year-old felony drug conviction, for which Jose had served time, organizers said.
By the next morning, Jose was deported to Tijuana, where he has remained.
“It’s been tough,” said Victor. “You go from seeing him everyday to now seeing him two times a month.”
Jose’s family—made up of his wife, four grandchildren and six U.S. citizen children, including a Marine veteran—announced the filing of a formal request for humanitarian parole with the Department of Homeland Security.
Family members also called on President Barack Obama, CSULB President Jane Close Conoley, Mayor Robert Garcia and other local leaders to lend their support through written letters to the DHS.
“What the school did is wrong; what we ask is for their help to provide a larger support,” Victor said.
Since the incident, Close Conoley announced an order in May that helps direct campus police who encounter undocumented foreign nationals.
“We don't have a President Trump..yet, we have a President Obama who tells us that he wants to help the immigrant community,” said National Day Laborer Organizing Network Litigation Director Jessica Bansal. “So we are asking him to use his authority to help this family. He has the discretion to grant this request. There is no reason for this family to be separated.”
Since Jose’s deportation, Victor said he has shared his family’s story in front of Cal State University officials as part of efforts to pass AB2792, also known as the TRUTH Act, which would regulate the collaboration between local law enforcement and all 23 CSU schools.
At the news conference, a representative for Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, announced the congressman’s support for Jose and his family.
“Mr. Alvarez was the main provider in his family, a family that is now struggling without him in the U.S., Lowenthal’s letter to the DHS partly read. “Granting Mr. Alvarez humanitarian parole will help in reuniting his family, which was so abruptly torn apart this past February. Deportations like these, understandably spark deep concerns and fear in our communities.”
Members of the Alvarez family also spoke before the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday, urging for support from council members.
Victor, who is a student at Long Beach City College, described the emotional and economic hardships his family has faced, saying he is still debating whether to stay in school or work full-time to help the family.
While Mayor Robert Garcia did not explicitly say whether he would support the family, he did urge the son to stay in school.
“I know it’s going to be tough but you gotta stay in school, trust me on that,” Garcia said. “I followed your father’s story, it’s incredibly tragic what’s happened, but you gotta stay in school."
Garcia also expressed his support for Close Conoley in dealing with the incident and the policies enacted on campus.
“I’m hopeful there will be positive developments,” Garcia said. “Just know I’m very proud of the president’s commitments. She’s really trying to make some changes.”
Bansal said they hope to hear from the DHS regarding their request for a humanitarian parole within the next couple of months.