ELIZABETH, New Jersey -- The crackdown against undocumented workers is creating complicated confrontations in the tri-state, where undocumented immigrants make important contributions to the economy.
15-year-old Claudia Herrera was raised in Honduras by her grandparents and was finally reunited with her parents in North Brunswick six months ago - only to see her father be ripped away from her life. Her 12-year-old brother, William was born in New Jersey - they were born in the United States, and feel like an alien living in the only country they have ever known.
The family of five is now praying for a miracle. Their father, Melvin Herrera is an undocumented immigrant with no criminal record. He is currently being held at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center in Elizabeth.
He is set to be deported to Honduras on Tuesday.
He was arrested in November after a routine traffic stop. Plainfield Police say the vehicle he was driving had an expired registration. But it wasn't even his vehicle - he is a construction worker and he was driving a work van. Instead of being ticketed, he was arrested and then handed over to ICE.
Melvin's wife, Geyde says her husband is the breadwinner of the family and she stays at home caring for their children. Her two youngest, William and 4-year-old Valerie have autism and were both born in the United States.
Geyde is terrified, and she doesn't know what to tell her kids. She is here legally on a green card, but even she is worried this could happen to her next.
She says her husband is a good citizen and pays his taxes. Most of all, she says, her kids need a father.
"I cried...because I really want my dad," said William, "He's nice and kind and I love him so much because he always tries to play with me."
In a statement an ICE spokesperson says,
"He entered the U.S. illegally at an unknown date and location, and was later encountered and arrested by Border Patrol May 29, 2005. He 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."
Geyde says she hasn't even thought about what would happen if her husband is deported. She doesn't want to think about what it would do to their kids.
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NJ family torn apart after dad handed over to ICE following traffic stop
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