By Kim Mueller
Patrons poured out of The Blue Line Hockey Bar in the River Market and marched Monday in support of bar manager Leticia Stegall who was deported Friday as part of an immigration enforcement operation.
“Look at all these people who are here for you,” Jennifer told her mom, Leticia Stegall, as the mother and daughter talked during a FaceTime video call to Veracruz, Mexico.
Supporters crowded around the 16-year-old, U.S.-born girl as she held up her green cell phone, panning the people chanting “Bring Letty Home.”
About 100 people came to the River Market rally to support the Stegall family as they fight for Leticia Stegall who was arrested as part of a four-day enforcement operation in the Kansas City metro area.
Leticia Stegall, who entered the country illegally 20 years ago, was arrested for DWI about six years ago — right before she married Steve Stegall, owner of The Blue Line at 529 Walnut Street.
The arrest triggered a lengthy legal process, Steve Stegall said, that ultimately led to his wife’s deportation.
“They came in like a kidnapping,” said Steve Stegall, recalling last week when ICE agents arrested his wife on Monday morning and deported her to Mexico by Friday.
ICE agents stopped Leticia’s car as she was on her way to the YMCA for her morning workout, he said.
Agents drove her car home and parked it while Steve Stegall slept unaware they were taking his wife to the Platte County jail before flying her to Veracruz, Mexico despite a federal court order, he said.
U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan Jr. issued the Writ of Habeus Corpus on Friday, stipulating that Leticia Stegall be held in the Kansas City area pending a hearing.
“But ICE didn’t care. They deported her anyway,” Steve Stegall told the crowd. “When you’ve got to tell your daughter that her mom is not coming back, that is the hardest thing I have had to do.”
Now the community wants to support the Stegall family during their struggle.
Landes Brown, who normally stops in on Tuesdays, made a special visit after a Twitter post alerted him to the rally. He left his Grand Boulevard apartment, bringing along his friend, Felix Glover.
“I don’t know why the government can’t get this right,” Glover said. “And now she is deported. How can this happen in America? How does that work? Is this something new that Trump is doing?”
Blue Line Server Jenifer Rice came to the rally on her day off.
“What I pray is that Letty gets to come back home,” she said.
Rice’s sentiments were echoed by neighborhood residents who arrived with homemade signs to hang on the bar’s walls or carry around the block.
DJs who typically work the weekends at The Blue Line, volunteered on Monday to bring their equipment and music in hopes of drawing more people to the cause.
“Letty was always here,” recalled DJ Amie Boyd. “She is a positive person to be around. Obviously, we are trying to bring her home. What happened was not right.”
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