North Brunswick family fights to stop deportation of their father to Honduras
A North Brunswick family is fighting to stop their father from being deported to Honduras.
Melvin Herrera is living in the country illegally but has never had a criminal record. He was arrested three months ago during a routine traffic stop and is now in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Elizabeth.
"My husband is a good person with a good record. No problem. Never police,” says wife Geyde.
The Herreras have three children – William, Claudia and Valerie. The family police that their father was targeted by ICE. They have filed an appeal, but if it fails on Friday, Herrera will be deported.
Geyde says her husband is the breadwinner of the family as a construction worker. She stays at home with the children - two of whom are autistic. She says that if Herrera is deported, it would leave the family in dire straits.
Herrera was pulled over by Plainfield police last November while driving in a work van. Police say that the vehicle had an expired registration. But instead of being ticketed, he was arrested and then picked up by ICE.
“The whole idea about this is trust. And it does not create trust when you get pulled over for a left-hand turn and you end up in the Elizabeth detention center,” says immigration activist Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale.
Kaper-Dale, who works to help immigrant and refugee communities, is referring to the New Jersey Immigration Trust Directive enacted by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. Guidelines say that if undocumented immigrants like Herrera don't have a criminal record, police should not be calling in ICE.
An ICE spokesperson tells News 12 New Jersey that Herrera, “Was issued a notice to appear in immigration court and failed to do so. He was ordered removed in absentia by an immigration judge Oct. 3, 2005. He is currently in ICE ERO custody, awaiting removal."
The Trump administration is suing New Jersey over its decision to be a so-called “sanctuary state.” New Jersey is one of seven states with that status. Grewal and Gov. Phil Murphy say that the law-abiding immigrant community will trust and work with police if they know that that there is not a threat of them being deported.
Herrera’s attorney says that he will file an application to have the deportation postponed, giving the family another chance to appeal. Otherwise, Herrera will be deported on Tuesday.