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Immigration Nightmare for Beloved Palm Beach Eatery

Image: Immigration Nightmare for Beloved Palm Beach Eatery
(Jeffrey Langlois/Palm Beach Daily News)

By    |   Monday, 10 Jul 2017 11:56 AM

President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy has hit Palm Beach — and his Mar-a-Lago neighbors are furious.

Francisco Javier Gonzalez — who manages Pizza Al Fresco on Worth Avenue, one of the ritzy island's most popular restaurants — faces deportation next week, despite no criminal record, an American wife and three U.S. born children.

Gonzalez's possible ouster has triggered a petition drive to stop the deportation, which by Monday morning had close to 5,000 signatures.

His case is complex. Gonzalez came to the U.S. at age 15 to live with his brother and after high school, returned to Mexico to visit his parents in 2001, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.

When he flew back, he was told his visa was not valid and was deported and banned from returning for five years. But he crossed the border illegally. In 2016, Gonzalez received an "administrative stay," but last week, officials said as a result of Trump's policy, he is subject to ouster again.

"ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," officials told the Daily News.

According to the petition on Change.org, Gonzalez's ouster would throw his family life into chaos.

"Francisco is the father and SOLE breadwinner for three U.S. citizen children and his U.S. citizen wife — who desperately need him to stay in the United States … He obtained his education, works hard, pays his taxes and lives an exemplary life …" the petition reads.

"Were Francisco removed [his daughters] would be entirely stripped of opportunities like Florida's curriculum for academically gifted students, the ability to attend a private pre-school, or the benefit of having his wife at home to fashion their young minds.

"The girls would suffer extreme emotional and psychological damage from the breakup of their solid family dynamic and the absence of their hero —their father … Francisco is a person of good moral character who deserves a chance to present his immigration case before Immigration Court with a council."

Local residents said Gonzalez's potential removal is unfair and would be tragic.

Palm Beach resident Jan Salsgiver said: "Javier Gonzalez is an honest, hardworking man who has had a positive impact on our community. He is exactly the kind of person we should be encouraging to come to and stay in America."

Thomas Moloney of West Palm Beach commented: "Javier Gonzalez is a fine, upstanding man whom I have known for six years as a thoughtful, productive, community spirited person. He is the caliber of person we should be proud to have in America."

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President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy has hit Palm Beach — and his Mar-a-Lago neighbors are furious.
immigration, palm beach, eatery, deportation, US
Monday, 10 Jul 2017 11:56 AM
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