Rochester, N.Y. – A man faces deportation after pleading guilty to charges against him in Federal Court Wednesday.
Gilberto Reyes-Herrera was arrested last year. He was riding as a passenger when the driver got pulled over for not wearing a safety belt. When asked for identification, Reyes-Herrera was arrested because of his immigration status.
He is accused of coming back the U.S. illegally after his initial deportation years ago, when he was sent back to Mexico.
It was an emotional scene in Federal Court Wednesday. Reyes-Herrera looked back to his daughter and son for support multiple times as he fought through tears while answering the judge’s questions.
The judge said he had never seen so many supporters in court for a case like this one. Those supporters rallied outside before his court case.
But Friday, Gilberto Reyes-Herrera learned he won't coming back home to his family. With a heavy heart and tears in his eyes, he learned his next step is to face an immigration judge who will likely deport him back to Mexico in the near future.
"My lasting feeling is that we have lost as a country, and Mexico has gained an incredible person," said Carly Fox, with the Worker Justice Center of New York.
For more than 25 years, he's worked in the United States as a farm worker to provide for his wife and three kids. In court, he said he would often work 13-hour days.
"It's been heartbreaking for his children. There is a sense of denial from one day to the next, your father has been shackled and put in jail," Fox said.
Reyes-Herrera cried to the judge. He explained the circumstances he lived through in Mexico, living in poverty - at times, eating grass when there was no food.
"I think deporting him is a mistake. He was deported before and came back because it was his only choice," said Elizabeth Myers, a supporter who showed up to court.
His daughter and son were in court to support their father. He also has a third, younger child who is an honor roll student.
Reyes-Herrera told the judge, "My heart is destroyed from separating from my family."
In return, the judge said, "I hope that by some miracle you can stay in the country, and work hard to provide for your family. In my opinion you are a good man."
"He left poverty to come here to try and do something better for his children, and he was so grateful for the chance to do that," said Fox.
Before being taken away in shackles, one woman in the crowd yelled, "We are with you. We love you."