Rosario’s father brought him to San Diego from Mexico when Rosario was 16. He attended public high school in Poway where he met his wife of ten years Cathy who is a US citizen. Rosario’s father shortly became seriously ill requiring Rosario to take care of his father and also help with his father’s landscaping business. Rosario’s father was part of the amnesty program under then President Reagan, and Rosario’s father had started the process for Rosario to become a resident, but that was interrupted when Rosario’s father passed away and Rosario took over the landscaping business. Rosario fully intended to continue the process of becoming a US citizen as time and money allowed and did not expect to be targeted for deportation. Rosario and Cathy both work fulltime: Rosario in landscaping and Cathy in a bank. They have always paid their taxes and been financially responsible and independent, but now find themselves facing extensive legal expenses. One morning in May, ICE waited a block from Rosario’s house and arrested him when he left that morning for work.
After spending three weeks in the Otay Mesa Detention Facility in terrible conditions that caused him to become ill and need medical attention upon his release, he was allowed to return home on bail. The immigration judge set his bail at the lowest possible amount, $1,500, based on the overwhelming letters of support garnered from friends, family, and employers. This man is truly an exemplary character, worker, and family man. However, during his time in the detention facility, he was shackled and handcuffed and experienced unimaginable mistreatment. The Otay Mesa facility has one of “the most notorious records of sexual abuse, detainee deaths and denial of medical care,” according to an ACLU statement quoted in the San Diego Union Tribune, 2 Dec 2016, and the conditions he endured there can only be described as inhumane.
Now that he has been released, he faces ongoing hearings for 2 to 3 years due to the recent glut of court cases. He has a deportation hearing in November where he has to prove that it would be a “hardship” to his wife and children if he were deported. This experience has taken huge physical, psychological, and economic tolls – and these tolls are not Rosrio’s alone but have affected his entire family. For example, his young daughter is constantly afraid that her daddy won’t be coming home again whenever he leaves the house.
The financial toll is no less daunting for them. But this, maybe, is something we can help with. During the three weeks Rosario was in prison, he was removed from work, unable to communicate with his clients, and, instead, performed hard labor inside the prison for the wage of $1 per day. Even more significantly, in retaining the services of a lawyer to “expedite” Rosario’s release (still took three weeks for a 5-minute bail hearing), and for basic representation in his immigration case during the next 2 to 3 years, the family will incur at least $15,000 in legal fees and possibly more since a lawyer has to be retained until this chapter is closed.
Anything helps. Please give generously and help this man and his family through this harrowing time as he navigates the immigration process to stay in San Diego with his family.