CLEVELAND– A Willard man was deported back to Mexico after almost 20 years of living in the United States.
Jesus Lara said goodbye to his four children and got on a plane at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Tuesday morning. It was all documented on Facebook Live by America’s Voice, an organization that advocates for immigrants and their families.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said a federal judge ordered Lara to leave the country in 2011. The agency granted him a stay of removed in 2014.
“In a further exercise of discretion, the agency has allowed him to remain free from custody to finalize his departure plans. The agency will continue to closely monitor his case to ensure compliance,” said Khaalid Walls, regional communications director for ICE.
David Leopold, Lara’s attorney, said ICE has granted his client a stay of deportation every year for the past five years.
“I’ve known Jesus for years. He’s an honest man, a doting father and a proud member of his Willard, Ohio community. He’s been here for nearly 20 years, paid his taxes every year, and been the primary caregiver to his four U.S. citizen children. Tearing Jesus Lara from his loving family is not only bad immigration policy, it’s brazenly cruel,” Leopold said in a news release from America’s Voice.
The attorney said Lara’s family contacted Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, collected signatures for a petition and started an online campaign to allow him to stay.
In the Lara case, ICE emphasized statements from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Acting Director Thomas Homan that the agency prioritizes national security threats. But also, “No class or category of alien in the United States is exempt from arrest or removal.”