The former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola took to Twitter on Sunday to show support for a prominent Palm Beach restaurant manager who is facing the risk of deportation under President Donald Trump’s new immigration policy.
Palm Beach resident John Sculley and his wife, Diane, used their Twitter account to share an online petition urging supporters to help stop the deportation of Francisco Javier Gonzalez, the manager of the Pizza Al Fresco restaurant, a landmark eatery on Palm Beach’s trendy Worth Avenue.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 5,000 people had signed the Change.org petition. The signature campaign was launched by Gonzalez’s attorney as part of a last-minute push to raise awareness about the case.
Gonzalez said Monday that he was grateful for the support but did not want to comment further about the case.
Gonzalez, who was born in Mexico but has lived in the U.S. since he was 15 years old, is scheduled to check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in Broward County on Friday — an appointment where he has been told he could face the risk of deportation.
Gonzalez, who is known in the community by his middle name, has no criminal record, a U.S. citizen spouse and three U.S.-born daughters. His attorney, Richard Hujber, has argued that if Gonzalez is deported, his wife and children would likely move to Mexico to keep the close-knit family together. The move could put the girls, ages 5, 7, and 10, at risk, Hujber said Friday.
Since Hujber posted the petition on Thursday, it has been signed by dozens of high profile Palm Beach County residents — including some of Palm Beach’s most elite socialites.
Names on the petition include: Chris Leidy, a photographer and grandson of Lilly Pulitzer; Nick Coniglio, a restaurateur and the son of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio; and Susan Phipps Cochran, an artist and member of one of the island’s oldest families.
In an email to members of the Palm Beach Town Council, Bruce McAllister, an attorney at a prominent Palm Beach firm, urged officials to help keep Gonzalez in the U.S.
“I implore the Mayor and Town Council to take all practical measures possible to influence your most prominent resident to protect this good man and his family from the sort of blind, bureaucratic action that often follows ill-considered or awkwardly worded policies,” McAllister wrote.
Gonzalez’s case is complicated. He came to the U.S. to live with his brother when he was 15 years old using what he thought was a valid visa. After high school, he returned to Mexico to visit family members. When he came back to the U.S., he was told at the airport that his visa was not valid. He was deported and ordered not to return for a 5-year-period.
Gonzalez didn’t wait. He crossed the border illegally.
Under the Obama administration, Gonzalez was granted a Administrative Stay of Deportation or Removal, which required him to check in at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Broward County once a year.
Until this year, the annual check-in has been little more than a routine measure for Gonzalez.
But during a routine check-in earlier this year, Gonzalez was told he would have to return to the Broward County ICE office in three months for another check-in, at which point he could face deportation. His next check-in is set for this Friday.
In an emailed statement Friday, ICE pointed to Gonzalez’s 2001 deportation, saying those in violation of U.S. immigration laws are subject to detention and deportation.
“Francisco Javier Gonzalez was removed from the country 0n December 14, 2001 and subsequently re-entered the country illegally,” ICE said. “As Secretary Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”