Another high-profile deportation is afoot in the restaurant world, and the unlucky individual this time is essentially President Trump’s neighbor. Francisco Javier Gonzalez is the general manager at Pizza Al Fresco, a popular spot in Palm Beach about two miles from Mar-a-Lago that he’s run very successfully for several years — and with the Obama administration’s permission, up until 2017.
As a 15-year-old, Gonzalez entered the U.S. from Mexico on what he thought was a valid visa. He learned it wasn’t when he tried returning after traveling home to Mexico a few years later. Rather than wait to reenter legally, he decided to sneak in. When Obama’s Department of Homeland Security later realized that he was undocumented, it granted him a stay; he was required to show up for annual check-ins with ICE, but was otherwise a regular tax-paying resident. Trump’s new hard line on immigration has been bad, bad news for lots of hardworking, otherwise law-abiding people in Gonzalez’s shoes, though. He and his lawyer fear the worst now that he’s due Friday in the Broward County ICE office.
Gonzalez has no criminal record, an American wife and three daughters, and is a well-regarded member of Palm Beach’s community. In fact, a petition posted by his attorney on Change.org last Thursday has already been signed by more than 5,400 people, including “some of Palm Beach’s most elite socialites,” the Palm Beach Post notes. Among them are Lilly Pulitzer’s grandson, the mayor’s son, a local radio host, and members of prominent Palm Beach families. John Sculley, Apple’s CEO back in the ’80s and a longtime Palm Beach resident, has been advocating for Gonzalez on Twitter as well.
ICE doesn’t often comment on specific cases, but it emailed the Post a statement noting that Gonzalez is fair game because he “re-entered the country illegally.” The statement continues, “As Secretary Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens … All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”