National City Mother Detained by CBP Reunited With Kids, Father Still in Custody

After being separated from her family for nearly a month, a National City woman under custody by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will soon be reunited with her four children.

Rosenda Perez, 48, and her husband, 51-year-old Francisco Duarte, were detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in May.

"They should not be detained at all," said Benjamin Prado, an immigration activist.

Francisco Duarte, 19, who shares his father's name, previously told NBC 7 in an interview that his father was handcuffed and put into an unmarked SUV when he walked to a convenience store next door to pick up a newspaper. When Duarte's mother walked out of the home to see what was going on, she was also detained.

"This is only done to criminalize immigrants," Prado said.

The couple has four children: Francisco, plus a 17-year-old son and two 12-year-old daughters. The family runs an ice cream business.

Francisco Duarte told NBC 7's Katia Lopez-Hodoyan that his father was walking to a nearby store to buy a newspaper when ICE agents took him into custody. He said his mother was arrested soon after when she came outside to see what was going on.

According to allegations brought up in court Friday, the couple rented ice cream carts to undocumented immigrants and profited from the sales. They also allowed the individuals to stay at their home.

The couple was detained in May on suspicion of working as stash house operators for a transnational human smuggling operation, according to CBP.

"We feel that it's a method to slander a family that's hard-working," Prado said.

Francisco also described his parents as hard workers who were targeted for being in the country illegally.

Ruben Salazar, the family's attorney, said Perez was separated from her kids for 23 days. She is now free from ICE custody on bail and will most likely be reunited with her family this weekend.

"So the message must go out, we must continue to fight," Salazar said. "Immigrant rights are human rights."

Duarte is being held in custody at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. He was considered a flight risk by the judge.

GoFundMe/Duarte Family
The children of Rosenda Perez and Francisco Duarte are asking for help to find where their parents are being held.

NBC 7 reached out to CBP Friday, but they did not have any further comments on this case.

Alan, a Chula Vista resident who did not want to give his last name, said he feels the issue of illegal immigration isn't black and white.

"For the people who get deported and are working, I do feel for those families," Alan said. "But for others that commit crimes and they don't really want to make this country better, then I am for it."

"I just hope they do it the right way, you know," said Karen Gray, another Chula Vista resident.

For several months now, National City has debated the issue of becoming a sanctuary or welcoming city. The City Council will discuss the issue on Monday.

GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for the expense for the four Duarte children.

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