GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas - A Houston-area man has been deported back to Mexico after he was pulled over for a broken tail light in Dickinson last week.
Gerardo Martinez-Morales, 52, was deported to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico Friday evening.
The father of four and grandfather of three was on his way to see a doctor around noon on March 10, 2017 when he was pulled over.
His family is now pleading with federal immigration officials to allow him to return to America.
His attorney, Raed Gonzales, argues deputies had no reasonable cause to suspect Martinez-Morales was in the country illegally, so ICE never should have gotten involved.
However, the Galveston County Sheriff said his deputies did everything by the book.
During the traffic stop, deputies discovered Martinez-Morales' license was expired and took him to jail. He was handed over to ICE officials on Monday.
Gonzalez says his client first came to the U.S. in 1996. He said Martinez-Morales is the main provider for his family, pays taxes, and has never been convicted of a crime.
“Even if they had 287g, they had to have reasonable cause to suspect he was illegal in the country,” said Gonzalez. “So an expired license tells you that?”
Sheriff Henry Trochesset says deputies handled Martinez-Morales the same way they would anyone else being booked.
“Through the booking process, a standard series of questions was being asked,” said Sheriff Trochesset. “We asked his place of birth. He said 'Mexico.' Did he have a social security number? No. And other series of questions which indicates he may not be in this country legally.”
The Sheriff says based on those standard questions, deputies will contact immigration authorities if they feel like it’s someone those authorities might need or want, just like they would with any other agency.
Gregory Palmore, an ICE spokesperson emailed KHOU 11 the following statement:
“On March 10, officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed an immigration detainer with Galveston (Texas) Police Department on Gerardo Martinez-Morales, 52, from Mexico, following his arrest on criminal charges. He was subsequently transferred to ICE custody March 13. Martinez-Morales was previously removed from the United States in March 2004. His previous removal order has been reinstated, and he remains in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States.”
Gonzalez filed a stay of deportation to keep Martinez-Morales in the United States but on Friday he was notified from his client's wife that her husband had already been deported.
Martinez-Morales was deported to Mexico once before in 2004, according Gonzales.
Gonzales says because this is the second time Martinez-Morales is being deported, he cannot return to the U.S. for 20 years.
Gonzales said only after ten years has elapsed, can Martinez-Morales apply for a waiver or a pardon.