Federal authorities deported a Carlsbad man Thursday, despite local protests and support for his continued residence in the U.S.
Gaston Cazares was deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials under the president’s new administration's policies.
Cazares moved to San Diego illegally when he was 17 and has been in the area for nearly 30 years. Cazares’ wife of 22 years, their teenage daughter and their son with autism now remain in Carlsbad without him.
Cazares said the experience has been a nightmare. He is concerned for his family and how he will find a job to support them in Tijuana.
He said his son has been “inconsolable” and does not even fully understand the situation, only that they cannot be together.
His daughter attends Scripps Ranch High School and said she cannot imagine her father, who drove her to school every morning since kindergarten, might not see her graduate.
Cazares does not have a criminal record outside of immigration offenses and has checked in annually with ICE since 2012, when he was granted a "stay of removal" because of his son's special needs.
Cazares was subject to a reinstatement provision because he was involved in an expedited removal almost 20 years at the border, according to his U.S. attorney Nicole Leon.
Under the law, Cazares was subject to immediate deportation without a hearing.
Cazares said he is alone in Tijuana and has nowhere to go, but he will not give up on being with his family again.
“We have to find a way to be together,” said Cazares. “It’s not over, it’s not over. I’m going to keep fighting for my family.”
There is still no information from officials as to why he was deported.
The Salvation Army in Tijuana offered Cazares a place to stay for the next few days.
An activist group in San Diego has set up a YouCaring crowdfunding page for the Cazares family.