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Long Beach City Council advocates for Jose Alvarez’ return

After being deported in February, city officials and community activists are in a hurry to bring him home.

Supporters gather at the Long Beach City Council meeting Tuesday night to rally for the return of Jose Alvarez.

Supporters gather at the Long Beach City Council meeting Tuesday night to rally for the return of Jose Alvarez.

Chrystina Schwartz

Chrystina Schwartz

Supporters gather at the Long Beach City Council meeting Tuesday night to rally for the return of Jose Alvarez.

Chrystina Schwartz, Staff Writer

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The Alvarez family and community members gathered at the Long Beach City Hall on Tuesday night as a  resolution that would help Jose Alvarez return to the United States was passed with a majority vote.

The story of Alvarez’ deportation sparked controversy within the community when he was pulled over by a Cal State Long Beach University Police officer at a traffic stop.

When police ran Alvarez’ information, they found a drug conviction from 21 years ago, causing a hit from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Alvarez was taken back to UPD and held on campus until ICE agents arrived and deported him to Tijuana the same night.

A rarely used grant, Humanitarian Parole allows people who wouldn’t otherwise be allowed back in the country reentry for a temporary period of time. This is implemented for emergencies.

The family has already petitioned the Department of Homeland Security as well as ICE, and now seeks support by Long Beach City officials in hopes of getting such parole.

On Nov. 1, a memorandum was sent to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and city council members from Councilmembers Robert Uranga, Lena Gonzalez and Jeannine Pearce, urging  a resolution in support of Humanitarian Parole for Alvarez.

Before the meeting, a short rally was held outside city hall, where immigration advocates spoke about what they hoped to accomplish in the upcoming council meeting.  It began when the speaker chanted “se puede?” and the crowd responded “sí se puede!” – meaning “can we?” and “yes we can!”

Alicia Morales, leader of the Long Beach Immigrant Coalition, thanked the partnering organizations, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Greater Long Interfaith Community Organization for their participation efforts.  

“It’s been a very long week, I think, for a lot of us,” she said. “But we are focusing today on the family of Jose Alvarez, who was unjustly deported earlier this year.”

The council meeting began with Councilman Uranga describing the Alvarez’ situation and his support for the resolution. While he spoke, a projection screen played photos of Uranga meeting Alvarez at the U.S.-Mexican border.

“So what could initially be seen as a routine traffic stop, became a nightmare for the Alvarez family. After communicating with ICE, the officer held Jose due to a 21-year-old non-violent felony drug conviction,” Uranga said. “Under current immigration policies, these types of criminal records prioritize individuals, like Jose, for deportation with no consideration for the family and life he created in the United States.”

About 20 people waited to speak at the podium, expressing the fear and emotions the deportation caused family and friends.

Claudia Ramirez, the media relations representative for the Long Beach Immigrants Coalition, said that getting Alvarez back is more urgent than ever due to Donald Trump’s upcoming presidency.

She said family and supporters  plan on getting him back in the country in the next couple of months.

“It’s crucial to do it during this administration,” she said. “There are several community members behind him, now the city is behind him.”  

Ramirez is uncertain if Alvarez will ever be able to return to the U.S. while Trump is president.

“Either way, we are going to fight to make sure he comes back.” she said.

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