Man facing deportation after testifying against daughter’s molester, family says

Posted at 3:48 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 15:48:50-04

ANAHEIM, Calif. - A California man picked up by immigration officials after appearing in court to seek a restraining order against his daughter's molester could be deported Tuesday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained Marcos Villanueva in August, just two days after he testified in court to defend his 12-year-old daughter, according to his lawyer.

She had accused her 51-year-old uncle of molesting her, attorney Willard Bakeman told KTLA. A judge dismissed the case in July due to lack of evidence, the O.C. Register reported.

The family believes the uncle tipped off ICE in retaliation, Bakeman said.

The 40-year-old father, who's being held at a facility near Irvine, had no criminal record, according to his lawyer.

“This is probably the most unjust and unfair case I’ve ever seen," Bakeman told KTLA. He called Villanueva's situation an example of ICE targeting victims rather than criminals.

Bakeman said the restraining order Villanueva's family had been seeking was not granted, and that the man who molested Villanueva's daughter lived two doors away from their home. The attorney said as soon as Tuesday, Villanueva could be deported to Honduras, where he would likely be kidnapped and killed.

According to ICE, an immigration judge ordered Villanueva's deportation in 2005.

Bakeman told the O.C. Register that Villanueva failed to go to court at the time because the notice didn't indicate a time or location.

He also told the paper the man has a "good" claim for asylum that has not been heard.

ICE, meanwhile, said anyone who violates immigration laws are subjected to be removed from the U.S.

"While ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security, the agency does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement," public affairs officer Lauren Mack said in a statement.