TUKWILA, Wash. -- The Robles girls are a tough bunch. They're defiantly taking on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The trio, 19, 14 and 4 years old, along with supporters, picketed the department’s Tukwila headquarters Thursday afternoon. Their tough exteriors, however, couldn't hide the fear in their hearts.
“I’ve never been more scared in my life,” said a tearful 14-year-old Yuritzy. “Any minute I could lose my dad.”
Her dad will likely be deported Friday morning.
Jose Robles came to America from Mexico illegally 13 years ago to give his girls a better life. He and his wife run their own painting business, working up to 14 hours a day to keep the family fed and the rent on their Lakewood trailer paid. Modest as it is, it’s their version of the American dream.
“I can’t imagine going back to Mexico,” said 19-year-old Brenda, who recently graduated from Clover Park Technical High School. “It’s so dangerous. You just never know what might happen.”
Robles came to the attention of authorities in 2010 after an argument with a neighbor. He was arrested, but charges were never filed. He was released and told to return to Mexico. His baby Natalie had just been born and his daughter Brenda was in high school. He wanted to see his baby grow and his daughter graduate. Robles knew the family would fall apart financially if they lost his income, so he stayed.
“It's all going to go to waste because they're deciding to send him away,” said Yuritzy. “It's not fair.”
Robles never applied for citizenship prior to 2010 because there was no way he could’ve been granted it, according to his family. They say he is a prime example of what President Obama said he would fix – a hard working family man trying to make a better life who is now in danger of losing everything.
“There's people out there doing the right thing and they're being deported, and there's people out there breaking laws and those are the people who should be going,” said Brenda.
The daughters have turned to local immigration rights groups looking for support. They have established a Facebook page and online petition in support of Robles.
Robles plans to turn himself in Friday morning, with an attorney, and plead his case. If he fails he will most likely be deported immediately.
“They need to know that people have families,” said Yuritzy, wiping tears from her eyes. “It's really not fair if they just come and take it all away.”
Due to privacy laws, ICE officials were unable to immediately comment on the case.