Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Letters of support for Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, who has a U.S. citizen wife and three U.S. citizen children, have poured in from West Frankfort's mayor, police chief, high school athletic director and the county prosecutor. They describe Hernandez as a role model and praise his robust civil involvement, including funding school scholarships, benefit dinners for families in need and hosting a law enforcement appreciation event.
Hernandez came to the United States in the 1990s but didn't obtain legal status, according to friends. He has been the manager of La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant for a decade in the community with coal mining roots, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis.
He was arrested at his home earlier this month and remains in custody at a U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement facility.
Though the community largely backed Trump — who has made an aggressive stance on immigration central to his agenda — many residents of West Frankfort said Hernandez' case has complicated their views on immigration policy.
"I think people need to do things the right way, follow the rules and obey the laws, and I firmly believe in that," Lori Barron, the owner of a beauty salon, told The New York Times. "But in the case of Carlos, I think he may have done more for the people here than this place has ever given him. I think it's absolutely terrible that he could be taken away."