That is, until last Tuesday, when he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Reyes-Guillen is a devoted father who sends all the money he can to his native Honduras where his ailing mother still lives. He worked as a painter and led a simple, quiet life, according to his brother, Mario Ramon-Reyes.
But on Tuesday, he was approached by a U.S. Marshals task force in search of a man wanted for murder.
At first, Reyes-Guillen ran from the officers. Soon after, though, he was caught and detained, despite not having a known criminal record.
On Friday, the fugitive who caused the ordeal was finally caught, but Reyes-Guillen remained under the care of ICE. Now, he faces the threat of deportation.
After the initial encounter, the immigrant fled. Officers soon knocked on the door of Ramon-Reyes and his wife, Elda Bonilla, asking if they knew someone named Pedro Vasquez or Francisco, which was the fake name given by Reyes-Guillen to the officers earlier. Telling the couple they had received an anonymous call about their apartment and that they were on the lookout for a man accused of raping a 7-year-old, officers searched the couple's home.
Despite their protests and claims that Reyes-Guillen was not who they were looking for, officers convinced Bonilla to reach her brother-in-law and get him to come back to the apartment to prove his identity. Bonilla later filmed his arrest.
In the video, Reyes-Guillen lies on the ground as an officer looks through his wallet. A second officer tells Bonilla to close the door, asking her if she wants any “problems” with immigration before telling her to shut up.
"Witnesses report seeing blood and law enforcement authorities stomping on Edwin's head," Alerta Migratoria, an advocacy group that stands for immigrants, posted on Facebook. "All this happened in front of children who were waiting for their school bus to Forest View Elementary. Children arrived at school in a complete state of panic and worried about returning to empty homes."
North Carolina's Middle District U.S. Marshals Service says they have no information that the arrest was violent and that officers were still “gathering information.”
Reyes-Guillen's attorney, Beckie Moriello, hasn't confirmed or denied whether Reyes-Guillen is an immigrant, undocumented or not. As it stands, Moriello explained, the burden of proof lies with the Department of Homeland Security, which must show evidence that the detainee is undocumented before he's deported.
Despite Moriello's claim, ICE sees Reyes-Guillen as an “unlawfully present Honduran national.” Unfortunately, he's unlucky simply because of the president's expanded immigration enforcement policies, and because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Edwin wouldn't have been put into proceedings under second-term [President Barack] Obama," Moriello told reporters. "So this is definitely a shift from that."
Despite the last administration's actions on immigration, which led to the deportation of more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, experts have already suggested that under Trump, records will be broken once again. And that's because Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has promised that ICE will no longer exempt any “classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
“All of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox told reporters who inquired about Reyes-Guillen's detention. “Further, anyone giving credence to the idea that an ICE officer's commands can be ignored or fought during an encounter is endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent.”
Cox added that during Reyes-Guillen's encounter with the U.S. Marshals, he “physically resisted arrest.” But as an immigrant in a country where the president is actively scaring people into living in constant fear of deportation, it's not a surprise to see people like Reyes-Guillen acting erratically in such situations.
After a Monday hearing, Reyes-Guillen was awarded a $10,000 bond, and an online fundraiser was set up to help his family obtain the money.
If he's out on bond, his next court date will be in Charlotte, but if he remains under custody, his case will be reviewed by the Atlanta immigration court.
Perhaps if more people hear about this case, there will be enough public pressure to let Reyes-Guillen go, as he hasn't committed a crime.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters