The love for a daughter makes him make a mistake that almost cost him his 'green card', and lose his family

Florino Rodríguez Estrada returned his soul to the body when an immigration judge approved that he maintain his residence in the United States by forgiving him for the crime of human trafficking when he tried to cross one of his daughters using another daughter's resident card.

“I felt free again. And I will be Mexican, but I love this country. I have given my life to him and I would give my life for him, ”he says excitedly.

Florino had been in the country for almost 40 years when in 2015 he made the mistake of wanting to put a daughter who lives in Mexico with the resident card of his youngest daughter into the US.

He had emigrated from his native Guanajuato, Mexico at age 16. He has always dedicated himself to the construction of where he has left to support his six female daughters and one man. He is currently 54 years old.

Florino Rodríguez celebrates having recovered his permanent resident card. (Courtesy Paulina Herrera)

In 1990 he obtained his residence for him, his wife and four of his children, but two of them could not get them a resident card and bring them to the country.

“My daughter was very desperate in Mexico. She begged me to bring her to the United States. I couldn't stand being separated from the family anymore. It was easy for me to use the “mica” of my resident daughter to pass it. I didn't think about the danger and the consequences, ”he remembers.

Florino traveled to Tijuana with his whole family, and on his return he also got in his truck to the daughter who is not a U.S. resident.

“In the review at the southern border, migration agents realized they were not the same person. One sister was güerita, and the other brunette, ”he says.

Upon being discovered, the whole family was arrested including Florentino himself.

“It was a real embarrassment, as if time had stopped. They put me in a cold room, and I wanted to go crazy, thinking where my children and my wife would win (be), ”he says.

Florino Rodríguez is originally from León, Guanajuato, Mexico. (Paulina Herrera / courtesy)

After 24 hours he was removed from confinement. In the offices he found himself crying to his daughter whom he had tried to cross. "I asked permission to hug her," he recalls.

The officers informed Florino that his wife and the rest of his children had already been released. The daughter she wanted to go without documents to the US, returned to Mexico.

“My resident card was taken from me. My van was sent to a corral in the city of Vista in San Diego County. They told me that I was free, but that I would have to go to court for a judge to decide whether or not they would take away my residence, ”he says.

The officer warned me that I would have to find a good lawyer to defend myself in court if I wanted to keep it. Although he no longer had his resident card (green card), that did not mean automatic deportation but everything would be defined in a hearing before a judge.

In freedom, but confused even with fear of going out the wrong door and instead of entering the US go to Tijuana and can no longer re-enter due to the lack of his residence, he asked the officers for permission to take a breath and locate himself.

Florino Rodríguez with his family (Photo provided).

Already on the street, he went to pick up his truck, and find a lawyer.

“In those moments you want to be encouraged, you want to believe in something. I asked God a lot to send me a good lawyer, ”he says.

“The truth felt uncontrolled. I had faith in regaining my residence, but at the same time I worried that they would deport me. What will he do about my wife and my children, ”he said.

Florino regained his residence in January 2019, but those two or three years without knowing if he would be a resident again, were tremendous. “I felt unprotected. I wanted to go to another city, but I was in doubt. What if they stop me and tell me where I'm going, ”he says.

The day the judge approved his residence, he confesses that he felt like Superman. “It is an inexplicable feeling of happiness. I felt very pretty as if I had removed a load. Now I feel safe where I'm going, and happy to even breathe the air, ”he says.

The family that Florino Rodríguez was about to lose. (Photo provided).

How did he convince the judge not to take away his residence?

“Is that the example you want to give your children and grandchildren? the judge asked me. I acknowledged that I had made a mistake when trying to bring my daughter to this country without being a resident, but I did not do it because of damaging the laws of this country but moved by the love of a father who does not want to see his children suffer", He says.

He also said that before the judge he said, "I apologize to the nation and to you."

The judge rebuked him and warned him that he had to respect the laws in this country and live in order. "I will do so," I promised.

When the judge approved that he keep his residence and acquitted him of human trafficking, he also recommended that he become a citizen as soon as possible so that he could fix the residence for his daughter who is in Mexico.

“I could have requested citizenship for a long time, but the truth is that out of sheer carelessness, he hadn't done it. I hope to apply for it this year, ”he says.

Florino was helped by the immigration attorneys Michelle Montes and Aisha Yadira Ching- Owners of the Eric Price law firm to recover their residence.

Florino Rodriguez with her immigration attorneys Michelle Montes and Aisha Ching Dueñas. (Photo courtesy Paulina Herrera)

A difficult case with a happy ending

Attorney Ching-Dueñas says to The opinion that Florino's case was very difficult because he was accused of being a “pollero” (human trafficker) when trying to cross his daughter to the United States.

In addition to everything, he had a very strict judge.

"A judge is the only one who can remove a residence," he says.

Nevertheless, He points out that something that helped Florino a lot was that he had a clean record. "Since 1990 he had not committed a crime, except for his attempt to bring his daughter," he says.

It clarifies that within the law, a pardon is contemplated for those who have committed the crime of human trafficking related to an immediate family member.

“We emphasized to the judge that Florino's only mistake and crime was caused by his father's love in wanting to help his daughter. The judge is tough, but it was also fair because he relied on the law to let him keep his residence, ”he says.

The defender recommends immigrants think three times before making a mistake like Florentino's. "It almost cost him his residence and losing his family," he says.

Usually US residence can be lost when the resident commits a serious crime such as murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping and terrorism, but also by not filing taxes, lying about previous deportations in citizenship applications and spending a long time outside the country.

It is also recommended not to use marijuana or work in businesses related to this product because it is still a crime for federal authorities, even though in California it is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes.


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