Uncle of kids whose parents died while fleeing ICE deported
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) – The United Farm Workers Foundation said six orphans of a couple killed in a crash while fleeing immigration agents have now lost their closest relative to deportation.
Santo Hilario Garcia and Marcelina Garcia Profecto crashed and died in March while trying to get away from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Delano.
The couple had six children between the ages of 8 and 18.
The UFW Foundation said Celestino Hilario Garcia, the orphans’ uncle, was picked up at a Delano apartment and deported Wednesday.
An ICE spokesman confirmed Celestino Hilario Garcia was arrested but was not able to confirm that he’d been returned to Mexico.
ICE said Celestino Hilario Garcia was granted voluntary return to Mexico seven times between 2002 and 2009. In April 2009, an immigration judge issued him a final order of removal, and ICE removed him to Mexico twice over the following two months.
ICE also said Celestino Hilario Garcia has three criminal convictions for driving under the influence.
Eyewitness News reported that ICE agents were after Celestino Hilario Garcia the day they conducted the traffic stop on the couple.
ICE mistook Celestino's brother, Santo, for Celestino.
Santo Hilario Garcia was speeding, lost control and flipped his SUV on West Cecil Avenue while fleeing the agents.
Delano police asked the Kern County district attorney to charge the ICE agents for allegedly providing false statement during the crash investigation, but the DA declined. The DA said the "material" part is whether the agents' actions contributed to the crash. She said witness statement backed the agents' accounts that they had abandoned the pursuit before the couple crashed.
UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres issued a statement Thursday about the uncle’s arrest, calling it a cruel blow to the couple’s children. She said, in part:
“ICE already contributed to the deaths of the parents of these six children who are now orphans. Can ICE be more callous in visiting even greater anguish upon this family that has already suffered so much? How much crueler can Donald Trump’s immigration policies become? How many more casualties can be produced by the Trump administration's targeting of hardworking immigrant farm workers who sacrifice to feed all Americans.”
UFW said Celestino Hilario Garcia also has a wife and four children in Delano.