Popular restaurant manager faces deportation: 5 things to know


Francisco Javier Gonzalez, the manager of the Pizza Al Fresco restaurant on Palm Beach’s trendy Worth Avenue, is facing the risk of deportation under President Donald Trump’s new immigration policy.

Here are 5 things to know about his case:

1. Gonzalez has an appointment at 10 a.m. Friday to check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in Broward County. Until this year, the annual check-in has been little more than a routine measure for Gonzalez. But under Trump’s expanded immigration policy, the once routine check-ins have become high stakes for immigrants like Gonzalez living in the United States.

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. That appointment is set for Friday.

2. An online petition created to raise awareness about his case had more than 6,100 signatures on Thursday — 7 days after it was posted by Gonzalez’s attorney. 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.

3. 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.

Gonzalez 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.

4. President Donald Trump’s nephew, former Palm Beach resident David Desmond, considered Gonzalez an “old friend. In a 2011 column for the Palm Beach Daily News , Desmond said Gonzalez made the Pizza Al Fresco eatery his favorite dining spot on the island.

Desmond said he became friends with Gonzalez during a weekly pickup soccer game at the Palm Beach Recreation Center. Like Gonzalez, who is known in the community by his middle name, many of the players were from South and Central America and worked in nearby restaurants.

“In our pickup games, I always tried to choose Javier for my team because he was a relentless competitor, a true winner, and he now runs Pizza Al Fresco to the same very high standard,” Desmond wrote in the 2011 column. “Good food and good friends, together they’re an unbeatable combination.”

5. The former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola took to Twitter on Sunday to show support for Gonzalez. Palm Beach resident John Sculley and his wife, Diane, used their Twitter account to share the Change.org petition urging supporters to help stop the deportation of Gonzalez. The couple has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter.



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