Bay Area man detained for three months after Daly City police turned him over to ICE

A Bay Area man held by ICE is speaking publicly for the first time after spending three months in an ICE detention center.

Daly City police arrested the man during a routine traffic stop, then turned him over to ICE.

Outside ICE headquarters in San Francisco, Jose Armando Escobar-Lopez talked about the night back in May when Daly City police turned him over to immigration agents.

"I was just driving and then I noticed flashing lights behind me and I worried that I had committed some kind of traffic violation," Escobar-Lopez said Friday.

Escobar-Lopez's fiancee, Krisia Mendoza, and her brother were also in the car at the time. She says the three were headed home from church when the officer arrested the 21-year-old.

Mendoza says police never said why they were stopped.

"He took his ID and see that he had a deportation order and that was the time when police arrested him," Mendoza said.

After leaving his family behind in El Salvador, Escobar-Lopez came to the U.S. seeking refuge. He was 17-years-old.

He says he was targeted by gangs and witnessed violence during his childhood. 

In 2017, he was given a deportation order after failing to show up to a court hearing. Escobar-Lopez says he never received the notice to appear.

"Five minutes after I was in the jail cell and ICE agent showed up and they began to shackle me right away," Escobar-Lopez said.

Surveillance video from inside the Daly City police department shows the ICE agent cuffing Escobar-Lopez's arms and legs, while an officer from Daly City police watched.

He said he was afraid he would be deported back to El Salvador.

He was first sent to Yuba City, then transported to an ICE processing center in Bakersfield.

Supporters say that shouldn't have happened, since the arrest violates the state sanctuary law.

Senate Bill 54 prohibits police from cooperating with ICE, unless the person is suspected of a serious crime.

Escobar-Lopez was never cited during the traffic stop.

"Armando's civil rights were violated by the Daly City police, therefore he was a victim of a qualifying crime. And Daly City to make it right should certify that he was a victim," said Carl Santos of the La Raza Community Resource Center.

The community held numerous vigils and demontrations demanding Escobar-Lopez be released.

His fiancee says she had to work two jobs to pay the bills while he was detained.

Escobar-Lopez's lawyers say he's now filing for a Visa, which is given to undocumented people who are victims of certain crimes.

His lawyers say he was falsely imprisoned by Daly City police and by ICE, and believes they should help their client.

"We're demanding that in order to fully do more than just words here.  They should sign a U-visa certification and help to restore Armando as he said, to wholeness," said Jessica Yamane of the La Raza Community Resource Center.

Daly City police are no longer commenting on the case. KTVU was referred to the city manager's office.

The city manager's office acknowledged KTVU's request for comment, but did not comment.