Tacoma family worries about deportation of husband, father

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Tacoma family of five believes President Trump's focus on immigration is leading to the possible deportation of their husband and father. He is married to a U.S. citizen, but he had no green card and had a felony drug warrant.

"I don't know if they send my dad back to Mexico," said Elizabeth Chavez, "I don't know if I'll ever see him again." The 17-year-old and her family are fearful Armando Chavez Corona will be deported in the next several days. "It's unfair because my dad was a hard worker and made sure we had everything we needed to live," Elizabeth Chavez said.

Last week, he was rear-ended along Interstate 5 in Tacoma. But, when his driver’s license was checked, the Washington State Patrol found a notification request by the Immigration & Customs Enforcement for a felony drug case.

His wife, Grace Chavez, was at the scene. "All of a sudden, I don't know why, I glanced to the back and I see an agent that says 'ICE Police'. And so I run toward my husband and I'm going to be honest with you, I tried to body barricade him."

But she says it was no use. The ICE agent took him away. She said she had no idea ICE had an arrest warrant out for him. "A felony drug warrant? I know nothing about that," Grace Chavez said.

Nationally, hundreds of undocumented residents have been rounded up. ICE says it's something it has been doing since the Obama administration. But Grace believes it has to do with the new Trump Administration. "You hear about it more and more so, yes, I believe it has to do with Trump."

President Trump recently tweeted, "The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!"

The Homeland Security Department said Monday that 680 people were arrested in roundups last week targeting immigrants living illegally in the United States. DHS Secretary John Kelly said Immigration & Customs Enforcement targeted immigrants who are a threat to public safety, including convicted criminals and gang members. He said 75 percent of those arrested were criminals.

As for the Tacoma case, the State Patrol says it is following the policies in place for many years and merely notified ICE. They did not make an arrest. "At no time did the State Patrol have this person in custody in the backseat of a car," said State Patrol Capt. Monica Alexander.

The family says time is of the essence. There was a possibility he was going to be deported Feb. 14, but now more likely Feb. 21. That means eight days to fight to keep him here.

In a statement Monday night, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Rose Richeson said Armando Chavez Corona had been deported previously and had a prior felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance.

"Mr. Chavez was taken into custody Feb. 9 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers after they were notified by local authorities about his involvement in a vehicle accident on I-5 in Tacoma, Wash. Relevant databases indicate Mr. Chavez is a previously deported criminal with an aggravated felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance and a conviction in the U.S. District Court for illegal re-entry. He was removed to Mexico on four separate occasions between 1996 to 2000. Mr. Chavez remains in ICE custody pending removal," the statement read.

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