HAYS COUNTY, Texas – Within minutes, an ordinary commute to work turned into a crisis for one family.
“He did nothing wrong. He was just trying to go to work,” said Nora Acosta.
The Hays County Sheriff’s Office said early Tuesday morning, Acosta's husband, Victor Avendano Ramirez was stopped for an unspecified traffic violation. When the officer discovered Avendano-Ramirez had two outstanding warrants, he was arrested and booked into Hays County jail.
“There is very little that should justify ripping a beloved father away from his family and traffic infractions are certainly not one of them,” said Jordan Buckley with the immigrant rights advocacy group Mano Amiga.
One of the warrants was for Driving Without a License and the other was for not showing up to court, which are both Class C misdemeanors in the state. Acosta said learning about the warrants was a surprise.
“He has gotten traffic tickets before, but he’s always paid them off,” Acosta said.
Once in jail, deputies notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Agents came and took Ramirez into custody.
Now, advocates are demanding a review of Ramirez’s case as well as his release.
“We’re here as a community that’s outraged at what Sheriff Cutler has done. He has committed to complying with all ICE holds regardless of how minor the infraction. To us, it’s cruel and it’s immoral,” said Buckley.
The protesters said it’s unfair to paint immigrants as dangerous criminals based on traffic offenses.
Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said in a press release his office is only following the law.
“Sheriff Cutler is lying because they have full discretion over whether or not they’re going to comply with these ICE holds and so no we don’t buy that,” said Buckley.
Acosta said now they are looking for legal assistance.
“We mobilized as fast as we could to see what we could do but they told us we couldn’t do anything,” she said.
After all, she said, her husband is the main breadwinner for their family.
“He works and pays the bills. He is the backbone of the family. If he’s not here, what are we going to do,” she said.
For now, Acosta said she’s ready for what could be the fight of her life.
“Even though I’m hurting, to see so many people—strangers—gives me strength to stand up and say I’m not giving up…and neither is my husband,” she said.
To her it’s an American dream worth fighting for.