SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A San Jose man is back home with his family Monday night, after being detained on an immigration hold for the past six months. ICE agents arrested Fernando Carrillo back in October after he dropped off his child at day care. However, a judge has decided he can stay.
Carrillo said the day has been overwhelming. All night, family and friends have been stopping by his house to see him. He calls what he’s been through a nightmare but he said it's all been worth it for this day.
Jubilee filled a South San Jose house as family and friends welcomed Fernando Carrillo back home. He was gone for six months in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” said Carrillo. “I still don’t believe it. I’m going to sleep later tonight and waking up tomorrow and seeing everything different than last night.”
No one missed him more than his wife and three daughters.
“The moment that I saw him and I hugged him I felt so happy,” said 11-year-old Sophia Carrillo. “It's something I can't describe."
Earlier in the day, the 33-year-old walked out of the U.S. Immigration office a free man. Officials said he entered the country illegally from Mexico in 2004 and was deported once before only to return to his family. He also has a DUI on his record.
“It’s hard when all of a sudden you go to work and they take you away from your family, from your life,” said Carrillo.
An immigration judge released him after defense lawyers argued Carrillo could face persecution in Mexico because of his family's ties to Mexican law enforcement. The cable TV installer is now allowed to remain in the United States.
“It’s absolutely horrific what ICE is doing in terms of the fear they are instilling in families,” said Priya Murthy of the Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network.
Immigration advocacy group Siren said Carrillo's case is not unique. The group has received an uptick of calls surrounding stepped up immigration enforcement under the Trump Administration.
“We had heard of detention and deportation cases certainly before but not to this level and to this scale,” said Murthy.
“We had to keep fighting,” said Carrillo’s wife Lourdes Barraza. “We are a very faithful. We knew that God eventually would bring him home.”
Back home, Carrillo opens up his Christmas presents. He said he's been given a second chance and his mission now is to help other families with similar stories.
“I hope my story can give hope to many other people, many other families and somehow they will get strength to go through these hard times,” said Carrillo.
KTVU reached out to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office but did not hear back. As for Carrillo, he plans to share his story with as many people as he can, talking to a Berkeley radio station on Tuesday.