PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Jose Gonzalez, a widower of a U.S. Army soldier killed while serving in Afghanistan, is now back in the U.S. after spending about a week deported to Mexico, according to his attorney.
[ORIGINAL STORY: Lawyer: Gonzalez came to the U.S. illegally in 2004 as a teenager]
Gonzalez was released Monday.
"Frustrated but happy at the same time," he said.
His immigration attorney, Ezequiel Hernandez, said he got a phone call on Monday that asked if Gonzalez could be at the border in an hour. When he got a hold of his client by phone, he said he knew he was relieved.
"I told him not to get too excited because I didn't know whether or not at the border something would happen," Hernandez said.
Gonzalez said he arrived at the Phoenix ICE office around 7 p.m. Monday but has not seen his 12-year-old daughter yet. Gonzalez explained it's because he and her grandparents on his wife's side share custody.
He said the joint custody agreement allows for him to visit with her every Wednesday and two weekends a month.
Even though he'd like to see his daughter right now, he's respecting the custody court order and thinks he'll see her Wednesday.
He said they texted Tuesday morning, but avoided telling her what happened. He also missed last weekend's scheduled visitation but didn't explain why to her.
Gonzalez, who lives in Apache Junction, said he was in his truck and on his way to his welding job when he saw police lights behind him. That was Monday, April 8 around 5:30 a.m. near Tomahawk Road and Southern Avenue in Apache Junction.
"I see six, seven cops around me pointing with weapons screaming to me," he said. "I get in shock, you know. I get frustrated. I get scared."
Gonzalez was detained on the spot.
He was then deported to Mexico late Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
One of the things he wants to do when he sees his daughter is to go to dinner.
Hernandez said he and his client wanted to share their story with hopes there are no more issues with Gonzalez' immigration case moving forward.
"We're just asking that the process that's in place, that we followed, was respected by the institutions that govern us," said Hernandez.
Arizona's Family reached out to ICE to comment on the claims the agency made a mistake and didn't notify his client of a court date.
The statement they sent us is below.
“On April 8, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Jose Arturo Gonzalez-Carranza, a citizen of Mexico, with a final order of removal. On April 8, Gonzalez-Carranza filed a motion to reopen with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). On April 11, ICE removed Gonzalez-Carranza from the United States pending the motion to reopen while a stay was in place. On April 15, Gonzalez-Carranza was allowed to re-enter the United States pending adjudication of his immigration proceedings. An immigration judge with EOIR will determine if proceedings should be reopened, and whether Gonzalez-Carranza has legal basis to remain in the United States.”
Asking parents in ICE custody, who are subject to a final order of removal, to make a decision about being removed with or without their children, is part of long-standing policy (see Detained Parents Directive). For parents who have a final order of removal, and their children have not received a final order, it is the parent’s decision whether to return with or without their children. ICE accommodates, to the extent practicable, the parent’s efforts to make provisions for the children. As appropriate, ICE will work with the parent to have the child return with the parent to their country of citizenship. When a child is in the care and custody of HHS/ORR, ICE works with ORR to reunite the parent and child and with the consulate to assist the parent with obtaining a travel document for the child. Alternatively, a parent may opt to have ORR pursue release of the child to another parent, guardian, or sponsor who has been approved by ORR. ICE does not interfere in the parent’s decision to allow the child to remain in the U.S. to pursue his or her own legal claim.
When parents are removed without their children, ICE, ORR, and the consulates work together to coordinate the return of a child and transfer of custody to the parent or foreign government upon arrival in country, in accordance with repatriation agreements between the U.S. and other countries. Unaccompanied children often are received by the country’s child welfare agency, who facilitate the reunification. When possible, ORR and ICE coordinate with in-country repatriation programs, which provide services to returned, unaccompanied children.
The fallen soldier's family released the following statement Wednesday after seeing the news coverage.
"The attention this story is bringing our family saddens me and I want to make a couple things clear and accurate.
For everyone concerned about [my niece], thank you for your love. Please know that [my niece] is beloved and well taken care of by our family, our extended family, and so many military families we have met all over the country. She has always lived with my parents and nothing about that is ever going to change. I am appalled by the way her father has been using the media and social media to gain sympathy. While we have always encouraged her to get to know her father, his presence in her life has always been, to this day, extremely minimal. She knows of him and knows who he is. I have explained to my niece what was going on in the past week with his legal matters, fearing someone would ask her about it before my family and I could tell her. [My niece] is old enough to understand this because this is her life, she is living it.
Yes, he was legally married to an American soldier, my sister, who died in battle defending our country. He moved on to a new relationship and a new family. His legal status has nothing to do with my sister or my niece, and they should not be used to resolve his personal matters.
We have had TV stations and newspapers calling for the last two days trying to get answers. We know the real story and that is why I have decided to speak on this. For the rest of the world this is a big political topic, and everyone has an opinion but they are not living this; my family is. Our only interest is [my niece's] happiness and success and my family is here, as we’ve always been, to ensure she has that no matter what."