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GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – A Grand Prairie man was deported Friday and accused of being a gang member.
But his family says he was a good father, married to a U.S. citizen and that his skin is proof enough that he’s not in a gang.
Reynaldo Rivera entered the country illegally 22 years ago. He worked as a painter and raised a family in North Texas but was sent back to Honduras.
“I’m just kind of in shock. I can’t believe that the justice system would do this to us,” says Melissa Rice-Rivera, Rivera’s wife.
She says it started last year when they were both painting a house and had a dispute with a contractor who became irate and called police on them.
“They said you’ll be able to get him out later and it will just be like a fine,” she says.
But Rivera says she was later told her husband was determined to be a gang member, possibly MS-13 and would be deported.
“He has no tattoos. He’s never been arrested for any gang activity so I don’t know why they did that,” she says.
Rivera offered bare chested photos of her husband to refute an allegation she calls ridiculous. But after being transferred to a detention center in Louisiana, Reynaldo was deported Friday.
“I think it’s really unfair it should have went a different way,” says his 11-year-old daughter Susannah.
Rivera’s wife says paperwork was filed after their marriage in 2005 that would have made him a legal resident but it stalled because her husband would have had to fly back to Honduras to complete it.
“We were in the process it’s a long process it’s a lot of proof it’s a lot of money,” she says.
Now it’s unclear if Rivera will be able to come to the place he calls home ever again.
“They deserve a chance if they were willing to do the right thing like we were to pay taxes and go through the immigration process,” she says.
CBS11 News made contact with ICE to ask the questions raised by the family but a spokesman says they will return the call on Monday.