Jesús López Lara with his four U.S.-born children in front of Sen. Sherrod Brown's office in Washington, DC.

Undocumented father in Ohio facing deportation pleads with ICE: "My children need me"

Undocumented father in Ohio facing deportation pleads with ICE: "My children need me"

Jesús Lara López, who has four U.S.-born children aged 6 through 13, has been ordered to leave the United States by July 18.

Jesús López Lara with his four U.S.-born children in front of Sen. Sherr...
Jesús López Lara with his four U.S.-born children in front of Sen. Sherrod Brown's office in Washington, DC.

In the small city of Willard in northern Ohio, Jesús Lara López felt he had it all: the comfortable house he bought with his wife Anahí last year; the good schools attended by his four kids; a stable job packing cookies in a factory; and a faith-based community at the local church.

Then came an ultimatum.

At his routine appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in March, Lara López was told he needed to buy a one-way ticket to Mexico, the country he left behind when he came to the United States illegally in 2001. He's been ordered to leave his home in Ohio by next Tuesday.

Over the past month, activists and community members have pleaded with ICE to let the 37-year-old immigrant remain with his family. Nearly 35,000 people have signed a petition asking for a stay of his deportation. And his children, aged 6 to 13, have gone on television, canvassed in their communities and even traveled to Washington to plead with legislators to help.

Lea esta nota en español.

Nothing has worked.

In many ways, Lara López's case shows how immigration enforcement has quickly ramped up under the Trump administration. Last month, the acting director ICE said every immigrant in the country illegally "should be afraid" of being sent back to their country. And, according to an internal memo obtained by ProPublica last week, ICE agents in charge of deportations were told in February to "take action" against any undocumented immigrant they encountered while on duty, even if they were not the target of an operation.


That's how Lara López's case unfolded. He simply went to his ICE appointment in March, like he's done for the past six years, and was told his time was up. He was even fitted with an electronic ankle monitor.

It was a sharp departure from his previous appointments, which usually ended with Lara López being told to come back next year once he showed he'd broken no laws and had no plans of disappearing.

"Unfortunately it's become a pretty common pattern all across country," said Lynn Tramonte, the deputy director of America's Voice and an Ohio advocate who has closely followed Lara López's case. "What's crazy is that ICE is going after people who are walking into their offices, people who are trying to do what they’re supposed to be doing, the rule followers. (Lara López) is very religious and he'll do what the government says. He's just asking for a little compassion."

Lara López already bought his plane ticket for next Tuesday, though he has faith that a miracle might save him before he's forced to leave. "I declare I'm going to stay here," he said during a recent phone interview. "I trust God more than anyone."

His lawyer, David Leopold, has tried to show ICE that Lara López is not a public threat or a burden on the government. He even submitted the testimony of his children's former English teacher, his pastor and a representative from the recruiting company that got him his job at the factory.

"I've provided them with tax returns all the way back to 2002. They know he owns a home, they know he has four kids who are doing great. They've never addressed any one of those factors," he said.


Leopold, who is a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says the secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, could suspend his client's deportation using his prosecutorial discretion.

"Kelly is saying the opposite, but the law gives him the absolute authority to stop this deportation. He has broad discretion not to deport someone who isn't a priority. There’s no reason at all to separate this father from his family," he said.

Lara López has some family members in Mexico, including his mother and siblings. But he says his children need him in Ohio. "I ask them (the government) with all my heart to be kind, and not to throw away everything I've built, not to separate me from my family that I love so much," he pleaded. "My children need me and I need them. We need to be together."

In a short statement, the ICE spokesman in Ohio, Khaalid Walls, did not detail the reasons the agency was prioritizing Lara López's deportation.

"He was ordered removed in 2011 by an immigration judge. In an excercise of discretion, the agency has allowed him to remain free from custody to finalize his departure plans," Walls said.

"With respect to when he's slated to depart, we do not confirm removal arrangements prior to a person's successful repatriation," he added.

Portraits of immigrants seeking compassion in the Trump era
The former Republican presidential candidate says a Senate immigration proposal that would cut immigration in half is flawed, but he backs idea of merit-based points system.
The footage shows a man wearing a badge, apparently from the local sheriff’s department, and claiming to be bail bonds agent. A lawyer then rebukes and questions his authority.
Maty Muy, a Guatemalan immigrant, went to renew her work permit at an ICE office and ended up facing a nightmare. Authorities placed a GPS monitor on her ankle and sent her husband to a detention facility. Now, she has taken over the family business – a tire and auto repair shop – while facing deportation.
This is what Greek artist Eleni means when she speaks about the power of the voice. She improvises a sing-along with a group of immigrants, refugees and allies in Boston's Urbano Project and the result was just beautiful.
Eleni Arapoglou uses new sounds and rhythms to preserve her roots. Eleni is part of the U-Lab 'Immigrant Sounds' sessions that celebrate World Refugee Day and Immigrant Heritage Month.
There has always been movement of people, and as we commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20th a group of musicians, activists and community members got together at The Urbano Project​ in Boston to share their experiences and reflect on the diversity that makes up American society: "The direction of where the world is going is encouraging us all, almost forcing us all, to break down those walls."
La cantante Eleni interpreta 'Milo mou kai mantarini', grabada en exclusiva para U-LAB Music como parte de las sesiones 'Immigrant Sounds' en honor al Mes de la Herencia del Inmigrante y al Día Mundial del Refugiado. Featuring Vasilis Kostas en el laúd.
Artist Nora Valdez and youth in the Boston community are sharing their stories one suitcase at a time at The Urbano Project. At U-LAB Music we documented their process as part of our 'Immigrant Sounds' series.
Nestor Duarte was driving his car in Key West, Florida, when Monroe sheriff deputy David Lariz pulled him over and asked for his papers. Lariz is the same officer who recently asked a Honduran man who had been hit by a car if he was "illegal."
Mimi Martinez, 30, arrived to the United States when she was five years old. Her mom stayed behind in Mexico. Now a legal resident, she was recently able to travel to see her mother in Mexico after 25 years.
Although the deportation numbers for Donald Trump's administration have kept pace with the Obama administration, images of operatives and arrests, hate attacks on different minorities, and the President's own pronouncements have triggered alarms in the immigrant community ... and fear. One of Trump's most vocal campaign promises has begun to come true. And we are not talking about the physical wall, but a deeper, taller and more effective one: the wall of fear.
The young man who was allegedly tortured in Venezuela spoke with Univision News as he left immigration detention, after a day after his arrest. "Thank God I'm out."
Belén Sisa, a DACA beneficiary of Argentine origin, uploaded a photo to the social network in which she showed herself with a tax form. The young woman received threats from Trump supporters, but says she won't stay silent.
"The president is calling all immigrants criminals," says Díaz Chacón and adds "I am the proof that we are not criminals." In 2011 and being undocumented, Díaz Chacón, rescued a girl in New Mexico. His story went viral. Today he is a permanent resident and reflects on the latest changes in immigration policy.
The announcement to scrap the benefits came as a bucket of cold water for the Cuban migrants who just arrived in the United States. As this group waits for their papers, the uncertainty grows on whether they will ever be reunited with the relatives they left on the island.
Ramón, who is from Mexico, has worked over the last six years to cross immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border. He shares with us how he does it, the price he must pay to the cartels and the dangers of the journey.
Personas cubiertas de sangre en el suelo, la terrible escena que dejó el ataque en Barcelona
Los videos de los momentos que sucedieron al atropello de Las Ramblas comenzaron a inundar las redes sociales. Tanto es así, que la policía española pidió a los usuarios que no publicaran imágenes de las víctimas por respeto a sus familiares.
Las hijas gemelas de 'El Chapo' visitan por primera vez a su padre en la cárcel
Las pequeñas entraron en la prisión acompañadas de su tía, puesto que la esposa de Joaquín Guzmán tiene prohibida la entrada por orden de las autoridades.
“La gente se sintió orgullosa (con Trump) porque un blanco recuperó la presidencia”, dice miembro del KKK a Ilia Calderón
Christopher Barker, líder de los 'Leales Caballeros Blancos' del Ku Klux Klan, y su esposa Amanda Barker explicaron si ellos apoyan o no al presidente Donald Trump durante una controversial entrevista exclusiva para Aquí y Ahora con Ilia Calderón.
Gobierno de Venezuela acusa de extorsión al esposo de la exfiscal general Luis Ortega
Un tribunal ordenó la captura del diputado Germán Ferrer, esposo de la destituida fiscal general Luisa Ortega. Lo acusan de ser la cabeza de una red de extorsión.
Incautan 30,000 pildoras de fentanilo, el mayor decomiso de la droga en Arizona
La DEA calificó esta incautación como "histórica" en Arizona y un duro golpe para el cartel de Sinaloa. La droga fue descubierta después de un operativo en una parada de tráfico.
Ataque en Barcelona: paranoia y miedo respira la comunidad árabe en el barrio de El Raval
En el céntrico y multicultural barrio barcelonés emergió una sensación de inseguridad que no se había sentido antes del atentado de este jueves. La comunidad musulmana ha expresado su repudio al ataque que dejó 13 muertos y unos 100 heridos.
En video: Así fue el enfrentamiento entre la policía y los extremistas en Cambrils
La policía catalana informó que ha abatido a cuatro presuntos terroristas en Cambrils, en Tarragona, y han herido a un quinto miembro del grupo en una operación relacionada con un posible atentado terrorista en esa localidad española.
La policía frustra otro posible atentado terrorista a dos horas de Barcelona
La policía catalana informa que ha abatido a cuatro personas y que un quinto atacante se encuentra detenido por su implicación en este intento de ataque terrorista en el pueblo costero de Cambrils.
La historia del activismo social de LeBron James
El 'Rey' LeBron respondió con fuerza ante la respuesta de Trump con respecto a Charlottesville y no es la primera vez que LeBron James actúa ante el racismo y la injusticia.
Lucero Cuevas pasó de ser carrilera a goleadora del América y de la Liga MX femenil
La ahora delantera contó que comenzó jugando por las bandas hasta que descubrieron sus dotes para romper redes y hoy es la líder de goleo del torneo. “Voy a defender a este club hasta la muerte”, añadió.
A Paco Jémez le llueve sobre mojado; lo multan en la Liga MX y lo suspenden en Copa MX
El director técnico de Cruz Azul fue sancionado por la seña que hizo a la tribuna en el juego ante Toluca y por su expulsión en el duelo ante Zacatepec.
‘Rafa’ Puente expresó su cariño y gratitud a Miguel Herrera, previo al encuentro en liga
La quinta fecha del Apertura 2017 enfrentará a Lobos BUAP y América. El técnico de La Manada, elogió el trabajo del ‘Piojo’ y aseguró haber estudiado bien su estrategia. Aquí sus palabras.