NORMAN, Okla. – The family of a man suddenly deported is reaching out to their political representation for help bringing him home.
In October, Luis Plaza Moreno went to the ICE office under the impression he was doing everything he needed to on the road to gaining citizenship. But, when he arrived to renew his work permit, he was arrested and deported four days later.
Plaza’s family said they feel like he was tricked after following orders of the last ICE officer he spoke to.
“It's not fair that they just took him like that,” said daughter Michelle. “They didn't let us say goodbye or anything.”
His attorney, Giovanni Perry, said he followed the orders he was given.
“Anybody should be able to rely on what the officers say,” Perry said. “And, they should write it down in their file and be held accountable for it.”
For more than 15 years, Plaza had been living in the U.S., working in restaurants to support his family, paying taxes and taking steps towards citizenship.
“The only days he was off was Thursday and Sunday, and those were the only two days that we went to church,” said daughter Jasmine.
Now, they’re doing everything they can to reunite the family, lost without its leader.
“I just wish this was like a nightmare,” Michelle said.
The family reached out to Senator James Lankford’s office and met with staff in Representative Tom Cole’s Norman office.
They weren’t just asking for help bringing Plaza home but wanted to address serious issues with how ICE handled his deportation.
Perry said the application for a stay of deportation usually takes a couple weeks to process but not his.
“We don’t know why it was within hours, it was rejected,” Perry said.
While he was detained, they couldn’t locate him through the normal avenues and, when they finally did, his oldest daughter wasn’t able to get through to him to communicate or send him money.
“She had to call over and over again for hours, because a person who would answer would just hang up on her,” Perry said.
Meanwhile, Perry said it’s nearly impossible to reach anyone in the ICE office on the phone, always directed to an automatic machine.
Now, they’re looking to their representation to help hold the agency accountable for how it treats those it’s meant to serve.
“Even if it doesn’t help Mr. Plaza, then it will help others,” Perry said.
She and the family encourage others to contact their representatives on Plaza’s behalf or to call their agency’s practices to question.
They’ve also set up an online petition to reach the ICE regional director, Simona Flores, with a plea to return their father home.