An Arleta man who had legal status but was nabbed by immigration agents outside his home and marked for deportation to Mexico was released from custody Friday evening, hours after being found eligible to remain in the United States.

“Being away from my family for 19 days is like killing me, little by little,” Jose Luis Garcia told CBS2. “It’s just not right. I’m not a criminal.”

Garcia, 62, was arrested outside his home June 10 as part of a three-day operation targeting what Homeland Security Investigations termed public safety threats in the Los Angeles area.

The Mexican national has had legal status in the U.S. since the 1980s, but pleaded guilty in 2001 to a misdemeanor domestic violence incident and was ordered to attend anger management classes and serve a term of probation, he told an immigration judge in downtown Los Angeles.

At the conclusion of a bond hearing packed with family and supporters, Judge Tara Naselow-Nahas determined that Garcia was eligible to remain in the United States based on the fact that he is a homeowner, has had no other legal problems and lives at home with his wife and family.

Garcia left the small hearing room at the Federal Building to cheers.

Immigration attorney Mackenzie Mackins, representing the Garcias, said the ruling brought blessed relief to the family.

“It’s huge for his family, it’s huge for him,” Mackins told NBC4. “He can start over; he can resume work. He can help his (family).”

Garcia’s daughter, Natalie Garcia, tearfully told KTLA5, “This should not be happening to any family, (but) everything I went through for the last month, it was well worth all my fight and my efforts.”

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