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Trump’s nephew called eatery manager facing deportation an ‘old friend’


President Donald Trump’s nephew, former Palm Beach resident David Desmond, considered a prominent restaurant manager facing the risk of deportation an “old friend,” saying Francisco Javier Gonzalez made the Pizza Al Fresco eatery his favorite dining spot on the island.

In a 2011 column for the Palm Beach Daily News, 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.”

MORE: Playing soccer in Palm Beach nets insights in dining

Gonzalez’s plight has drawn significant local attention and scrutiny since coming to light late last week. Thousands of area residents have signed an online petition in a case in which the policies of part-time Palm Beach resident Trump are striking very close to home.

In fact, earlier this spring, Gonzalez lauded the benefits of the “Trump effect” on Palm Beach’s business community.

“For us, it’s been great,” Gonzalez told Tampa Bay Times. “People really want to come to Palm Beach to see the scene.”

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 under President Donald Trump’s new immigration policy.

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. The move could put the girls, ages 5, 7, and 10, at risk, Hujber said Friday.

RELATED: Prominent Palm Beach restaurant manager faces risk of deportation

Desmond, the son of Trump’s sister, federal Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, could not be reached for comment this week. He sold his Palm Beach home, which backed up to a parking lot for The Mar-a-Lago Club, in 2015.

>> Trump’s sister, the federal judge, ‘a little different’ from him

Before moving, Desmond, a neuropsychologist, wrote a humor column called “The Rich Life” for the Palm Beach Daily News. He has published at least two novels set in Palm Beach.

In the 2011 column, Desmond said he joined the pickup game in 2003 after learning about it from a restaurateur.

“As months and then years passed, players moved in and out of the game, but I came to know a core group very well and looked forward to seeing them every Sunday,” Desmond wrote. “I was surprised to discover that many of them worked in restaurants both on and off the island, and they often showed up just a bit the worse for wear after working a long Saturday night shift.”

RELATED: Ex-Apple, Pepsi exec backs restaurant manager facing deportation

Town officials eventually booted the group from the public field, and the weekly game was moved to a facility in West Palm Beach. But the “family atmosphere was never the same,” Desmond wrote.

“I miss those Sunday morning soccer games, but I miss my fellow players even more because it’s all-too-rare that such a disparate group of people would ever find themselves choosing to be together,” he wrote.

Since information about Gonzalez’s case was made public last week, dozens of high profile Palm Beach County residents — including some of Palm Beach’s most elite socialites, have shown support for him. An online petition started by Gonzalez’s on Thursday has nearly 6,000 signatures.

On Sunday, the former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola, John Sculley and his wife, Dianeused their Twitter account to share the Change.org petition.

Gonzalez said that he is grateful for the support but declined to comment further about the case.

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.”



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