Tereso and Antonia Rodriguez – Keeping Families United

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Tereso Rodriguez immigrated to Richmond, California 18 years ago to seek better economic and collective futures for his family. In that time his wife Antonia and him made a family together have two sons and a daughter in Richmond. For over ten years he worked in a local factory, but as the economic crisis of 2008 took hold he was laid off with over 100 of his fellow employees, and since that time like many people facing poverty and hunger today, Tereso and Antonia have collected recyclables from trash cans to get enough money to eat.

While this meager existence may seem like little to many people, most importantly the Rodriguez family was together and that reality nearly came crashing down 45 days ago when he was stopped by the San Pablo police department because one of the lights of his truck was not working. Tereso had a warrant from a DUI arrest in 2005 when he failed to appear in court because, “I was afraid to be deported and this is why I did not attend my court, also if I were deported my family would be in a very difficult economic situation because I was the only provider in my family at that time.”

As soon as the police found out that he had a warrant Tereso was sent to Martinez where he was finger printed and immediately he was placed on an ICE hold. The next morning at 5am, he was interviewed by an ICE agent that confused him with another person who had more serious changers and the ICE agent was sure that Tereso Rodriguez was the other person. That same day, Tereso was sent to court where a translator helped explain to his public defender that he was not the same person who ICE agent thought he was and luckily he was able prove that he was not the person.

The judge gave him jail time to pay for the DUI (45 days) and he was sent to West Contra Costa Detention Facility with an ICE hold. The judge told him that his records would be clean with the time in jail. He was very afraid to finish his jail time and then to be deported because the ICE hold. Tereso said “for an immigrant, having to deal with this situation is very stressful (double or triple) because you are in jail paying your time, afraid of losing your job and getting deported” While Tereso was in the West Contra Costa Detention Facility he met many people who had been there for more than 2 ro 3 months without being able to attend a court and who were all afraid of being deported. According to Tereso many of those being detained had not been involved in any crime and many people were getting deported without being a threat to the community.

After a very anxious 45 days, where his entire family feared they would be divided permanently if Tereso were to be deported, he was released on father’s day at 4pm. The family was at the Detention facility in the morning from 10am to 2pm and a guard told them that even though the released day was that day, they could not released him because of the ICE hold. While his family had gone home and he had no way of contacting them without a phone, Tereso walked home and the Rodriguez family were able to spend Fathers day night together, united again.

Tereso and Antonia Rodriguez are two of the 11 million plus people living in the shadows in the Untied States, who cannot find permanent work and who are in constant fear of having their families torn apart with this broken immigration system. As the immigration bill of 2013 slowly makes its way through the congress this is just another story to show how necessary a clear path to citizenship is for all of these families. While we wait for the bill to pass through congress we know that sheriff Livingston could take action right now to give undocumented families in Contra Costa County relief from fear and deportation.