A Georgia dad, brought to the U.S. when he was just 3 years old, faces deportation. But his family is praying that he'll be able to stay.
Omar Rogel, a beloved husband and father of three, is now at a detention center in Stewart County, hoping for a stay of removal.
His story is getting attention across the nation, and a GoFundMe page set up to help his family has raised almost $12,000.
Like Rogel, many others are caught up trying to navigate the current immigration laws.
MORE IMMIGRATION COVERAGE | At the border
11Alive's Elwyn Lopez spoke to Omar's wife Alena Orwin, who said her oldest son Maddox keeps asking for one thing.
"He says, 'Daddy, can you come home today, please'," Orwin explains.
She said it's the only wish her son had for his 10th birthday.
But Maddox's father was, and still is, detained.
Orwin, who is a U.S.-born citizen, explained that it all started with a letter from ICE.
The letter asked for Rogel to appear at the ICE Atlanta Field Office Aug. 2 in downtown Atlanta for an interview. The letter stated that failure to appear to the interview “may result in a declaration of a breach of the bond, the forfeiture to the government, and a warrant” for his arrest may be issued.
"I honestly got excited, because I thought it was an interview for his visa," she said.
Orwin said Rogel came to the U.S. with his mother and sister from Mexico in the 1980s. His mother became a naturalized U.S. citizen 18 years ago, and his sister now has a green card. Orwin explained that Rogel spent a big part of his life trying to become a U.S. citizen. An interview would have been a step closer.
Instead, "They basically just told him, upon reviewing everything, you have yet to obtain any legal citizenship, so therefore we will have to take you into custody," Orwin said.
In a statement to 11Alive, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson said, "Mr. Rogel-Brito was ordered removed from the U.S. by a federal immigration judge in 2016, and the courts subsequently denied two appeals in January 2017 and December 2017."
The statement added, "Mr. Rogel-Brito also has numerous misdemeanor criminal convictions."
"Misdemeanors," Orwin emphasized. "He's not a perfect person. None of us are... so, essentially they are defining him by what they see on a piece of paper."
Orwin said Rogel is a marathon runner and a churchgoer. His friends say he is known in his community for his kindness. The father of three, like many others who came to the U.S. at a young age, doesn't consider his country or origin home. He even attended Georgia State.
"He is from Georgia, this is home," Orwin underscored. "This is where his heart is. This is his home."
Now, they are left clinging to faith and hope, praying for a stay of removal, so the father of three can come home to children who need their daddy.