West Frankfort is a small town in Southern IL. With a population of around 8000, the town is usually quiet and close knit. That changed on February 9th, when one of their long-time citizens was arrested and is being detained in an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) facility near St. Louis, MO. The man’s legal status is being questioned as he could not produce any proper papers to be in the US.

Upstanding citizen in the community

Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, from Mexico, has been living in the states for over 20 years.

He has a wife and 3 sons, all of whom are American citizens. Residents of West Frankfort say he and his family are as much a part of the community as any other family and they are proud to call him neighbor and friend.

Pacheco has managed a restaurant, called La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, for many of the years he has lived there. According to The Southern Illinoisan, Pacheco has been instrumental in hosting many fundraisers for the community. Franklin Schools Districts athletic director, Richard Glodich, said that Pacheco had even started a scholarship fund through the restaurant that benefits students that excel academically.

“He’s been nothing but community minded.” Glodich was reported as saying.

Unable to produce papers upon questioning

One might wonder how this happens? According to Mark Williams, who is a friend, the problem goes, in part, back to a decade old DUI case. He says Pacheco paid his debt for that incident and he hasn’t seen him with a drink since. Pacheco also pays taxes and lives as a model citizen in the small Southern Illinois town.

He is well known and respected by everyone. Neighbors, friends and even public servants state that Carlos Pacheco filed the proper papers many years ago, to be allowed to remain in the states. According to long-time friend, Tim Rigsby, an attorney has filed the proper papers, “But it seems like his paperwork was just sitting on somebody's desk somewhere."

Entire community works to free ICE detainee

The community of West Frankfort has taken on the challenge of standing behind one of their own.

They say it is a “pay it forward” for all that Pacheco has done for the town. They are helping his attorney by giving character witness statements in the hopes of speeding up the process of getting his citizenship papers and to get him released from the ICE detainee center. Still more residents are writing letters on his behalf. President Donald Trump’s new stand on immigration has a lot of people worried and upset. They could be the next person to be detained and possibly deported. Carlos Pacheco has an entire community supporting him, while others may not be so lucky. Pacheco hopes that all of this attention will somehow help to speed up his quest to becoming a citizen and that he will soon be returned to his family and the community he loves.

What do you think? Would you stand behind Carlos?

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