The town folk wrote letters of support to the mayor, police chief, high school athletic director and the county prosecutor, for Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco. They described him as a role model and praised his civil involvement such as his funding of school scholarships and benefit dinners for the poor as well as a law enforcement appreciation event.
Hernandez, 38, arrived in the U.S. in the 1990s and never bothered obtaining legal status according to his friends. He was the manager of La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant for about ten years.
Hernandez was arrested at his home (su casa) earlier this month and is now in custody at an ICE facility outside St. Louis, about 100 miles northwest of West Frankfort. ICE officials didn't give a reason for his arrest but mentioned his drunken-driving conviction from 2007. Many of the residents didn't know of his legal status in the U.S. until word spread like wild fire (fuego salvaje).
Although the town backed Trump's aggressive immigration policy, when it affected someone who managed the only Mexican restaurant in town, well, that kind of threw a llave inglesa (monkey wrench) into the mix.
Many of the town folk said the Hernandez situation has complicated their views on immigration policy.
One town elder, who wishes to remain anonymous in spite of President Trump's demand that anonymous people come forward and reveal their identity said, "Why shucks, that darned Mexee can restaurant served the best dang tortillas south of the Mississippi. Why'd they done locked up that poor fella? I reckoned Trump was gonna get rid of them criminal aliens, not the good ones."
Another person, unafraid of notoriety, said "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."
Hernandez' attorney is attempting to get him freed on bond until his case can be heard.
His wife, Elizabeth Hernandez, and their three children are U.S. citizens. She said that she hope he can come home and "continue his efforts on becoming an American citizen, something that he has wished for a very long time."
From my understanding, and I don't mean to sound callous or cruel, is that one doesn't 'wish' to become an American citizen--one applies for it and gets in line.