Birthday, Easter wishes granted as a San Jose family prepares for a father to come home
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - On the holiest of days, Lourdes Barraza said her family was blessed with a miracle.
"Easter miracle, birthday miracle, birthday wish,” said Barraza.
Speaking to KTVU, Barraza said the only thing she wanted for Easter Sunday and her daughter’s birthday was for her daddy to be home.
“And thank God he will be home on Monday," she said.
Her daughter Anna Victoria celebrated her fifth birthday Easter Sunday and has been waiting for her father, Fernando Carrillo, to return home so he can teach her how to swim in the backyard pool.
For the past six months, the family has only been allowed non-contact visits with Carillo while he was being held in the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.
Carrillo was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent's October 11 after he dropped off his four-year-old daughter at daycare.
ICE agents said Carrillo violated a previous deportation order to Mexico and also had a previous DUI conviction.
Faith based leaders, human rights groups and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf led an active campaign for Carrillo's release.
Carrillo and his lawyers argued he would be persecuted if he was returned to Mexico. And after months of hearings, Federal Immigration Judge Joseph Parks agreed and ordered his release.
Family lawyer Hedi Framm said Carrillo was lucky.
“What I can say is Fernando was very lucky in that he had actual evidence of what happened to him, which many of our clients do not,” Framm said. “Evidence from the Mexican government itself that he could not return".
Carrillo will be released to his family at the San Francisco ICE headquarters Monday April 2nd.
After speaking for months to their father behind glass, his daughters were thrilled.
"I am overwhelmed with joy and excitement, and I cannot wait to see what the future has for all of us,” said 15-year-old Isabella Astorga. “I am much more motivated to go back to school, just to see what he going to do with his life now that he's so much freer.”
Carrillo’s 11-year old daughter Sophia Gallon is also overwhelmed with her father’s release. She said she was looking forward to getting a dog – a promise her father had made before he was detained.
Barraza says that while her husband was detained life was hard, "both emotionally, physically and financially.”
“All three aspects were hard.”
"I was left to be a single mom out of nowhere, I’ve had to stay strong for our daughters, stay strong for him and stay strong for myself more than anything.”
Fernando’s release was thanks in part to a large community effort, and Barraza believes his release was not only for them but for other families that have gone through the same thing. She plans to fight for other families that are caught in the immigration nightmare.
The family says after greeting their father Monday morning they have plans.
"The first stop for us is church. We want to thank god for this miracle,” Barraza said. “And step two is tacos.”
"He is just dying to have his tacos and that is exactly where we will be tomorrow. He already made that clear."
Under the withholding of the removal order, Fernando is allowed to remain in the United States but is not permitted to travel outside of the country.