An immigrant arrested by immigration authorities – possibly on an anonymous tip from a revengeful relative accused of molesting the mans daughter – called his wife Tuesday and told her he is being deported.
Anaheim resident Marcos Villanueva expects to arrive in Honduras Wednesday afternoon, his wife, Jenie Villalvir, said tearfully.
Villanueva was transferred from an Orange County detention center to another one in Los Angeles, where he was told he would be flown to Arizona, and from there to Honduras, his wife said late Tuesday afternoon.
Villanueva will arrive in his home country with only the clothes that he was wearing when ICE picked him up in August: his dirty painters work clothes, she said.
“He asked if someone could meet him at the airport with clean clothes,” Villalvir said. “He only has $1 on him.”
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On Aug. 8, three black vehicles carrying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stopped Villanueva and his wife as they were heading to a local doughnut shop near their Anaheim home. He has been detained at the James A. Musick Facility in the Irvine area.
The family and Villanuevas attorney, Willard Bakeman, believe the tip to ICE was payback from an uncle accused of molesting Villanuevas young daughter. The alleged sexual abuse and attempted rape first came to light when the girls school reported it to police, Bakeman said. A judge recently dismissed the case due to a lack of evidence, according to the family. The girl, now 12, continues in therapy.
“Whats happened is so unjust,” Villalvir said, breaking down. “Not even when I came here from Honduras have I suffered as much as right now.”
Cases like this one impact more than one family; they lead people living in the country illegally to fear cooperating with police, Bakeman said. “It has a chilling effect.”
ICE officials refused to answer questions about the case. In a statement Tuesday, an ICE spokeswoman said Villanueva “remains in ICE custody pending his removal from the U.S.”
Villanueva has lived in Orange County for 13 years, since he left Honduras after gang members shot him and killed one of his friends in front of him, he said last week in an interview with the Southern California News Group.
The 40-year-old has reason to fear for his life in Honduras, Bakeman said.
But Villanueva was deported without being granted an interview to determine whether there is credible fear for his life if he is returned to his homeland, a first step toward an asylum request, his attorney said.
“Theyre not allowed to deport a person who fears torture and murder without investigating the claim. So I believe they violated (a United Nations) treaty,” Bakeman said. “The case was on appeal and (ICE) knew it was on appeal. Ive never had a case before when there is an appeal pending and the client is deported,” Bakeman said.
“Well keep on fighting to bring him back.”
The couple, married for 20 years, have three daughters. One is in Honduras with her grandmother, and to keep the girl and her grandmother safe, Villanueva said, he sends bribe money every month to a gang. The other two daughters live with the couple in Anaheim: the oldest, 18, attends a local community college, and the youngest, who was allegedly abused by the uncle, is in seventh grade.
On Tuesday morning, the 12-year-old asked her mother: “Is Papá coming home today?”
By evening, Villalvir was still trying to figure out how to tell her young daughter the harsh news. Her father is gone.
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