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Migrant Detainee Reunited with Family for Christmas

December 28, 2017

By Alexandra Mendoza

After being held for seven months at an immigration detention center, Francisco Duarte was able to spend Christmas with his family.

When the story first broke about Francisco and Rosenda Duarte – parents to four children ages 12 to 19 – being detained in late May of this year during an immigration raid in National City, it tore at the heartstrings of thousands of people throughout the country.

A month later, a judge granted Rosenda her release on bond; Francisco, however, was not as fortunate.

Finally, just days before Christmas, a judge heard Francisco’s case and decided to also release the father while he continues his legal proceedings.

“(I am) very pleased, very happy,” Francisco expressed to the media after being reunited with his wife and children.

Francisco and Rosenda Duarte came to the U.S. from Mexico more than 20 years ago, and since then have made a living selling popsicles in the streets of San Diego.

Their children, Francisco Jr., Luis, and twins Aracely and Yarely – all of them U.S. citizens – have all excelled academically at each of their schools.

During these difficult times, the community came together to help them, even providing money through a GoFundMe page for the children while their parents were being held by federal immigration authorities.

Francisco Jr., being the eldest, was forced to drop out of school and get a job to help support his siblings. They also became politically active in their community, speaking before National City’s City Council in favor of adopting a symbolic “Compassionate City” resolution in support of its migrants.

“We knew that whether the city was a ‘sanctuary’ or not, what happened would have happened,” shared Francisco, Jr. “But we said, ‘if our people can get some support from the City, if the can do something, they should do it.’”

Rosenda is trying to remain positive about the ordeal and, for now, is just grateful that her family is back together again.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” she said. “It will turn our lives for the better; despite what we’ve been through, good things will come for our family, to value ourselves as a family.”

At the time Francisco and Rosenda were detained, it was alleged that they were hiding illegal immigrants in their home; however, no charges were filed or such a crime. Their attorney denied the allegations and said that the reason was that the couple had shared their home with other undocumented persons 16 years before.

“It’s unfair, because they are honest, righteous people… all of their children get good grades,” stated attorney Francisco Javier Aldana, who is confident that at the end of the proceedings the Duarte family will get a decision in their favor. “I am 99.9 percent certain that they will get their adjustment and receive their green cards.”

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