The beloved Palm Beach restaurateur and father of three facing deportation under President Donald Trump's immigration policy has a powerful new ally — a multimillionaire business tycoon who's served as CEO of Apple and president of Pepsi-Cola.
John Sculley, along with his wife, Diane, tweeted their support of a petition demanding that Francisco Javier Gonzalez — who manages Pizza Al Fresco on Worth Avenue, one of the ritzy island's most popular restaurants — be allowed to remain in the United States.
The tweets by the influential Palm Beach resident are the latest salvo in a petition drive by Gonzalez's lawyer Richard Hujber to stop the deportation. It had more than 5,525 signatures by late Tuesday morning and continues to build up steam.
Gonzalez's case is complex. He came to the U.S. at age 15 to live with his brother and after high school, returned to Mexico to visit his parents in 2001, the Palm Beach Daily News reports.
When he flew back, he was told his visa was not valid and was deported and banned from returning for five years. But he crossed the border illegally. In 2016, Gonzalez received an "administrative stay," but last week, officials said as a result of Trump's policy, he is now subject to ouster.
"Under this Executive Order, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," the Department of Homeland Security said on its website.
The petition to help Gonzalez, on Change.org, says his ouster would throw his family's life into chaos.
"Francisco is the father and SOLE breadwinner for three U.S. citizen children and his U.S. citizen wife — who desperately need him to stay in the United States . . . He obtained his education, works hard, pays his taxes and lives an exemplary life," the petition reads.
"Were Francisco removed [his daughters] would be entirely stripped of opportunities like Florida's curriculum for academically gifted students, the ability to attend a private pre-school, or the benefit of having his wife at home to fashion their young minds.
"The girls would suffer extreme emotional and psychological damage from the breakup of their solid family dynamic and the absence of their hero — their father . . . Francisco is a person of good moral character who deserves a chance to present his immigration case before Immigration Court with a council."
The highly-popular restaurant Gonzalez manages is located just two miles north of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, which serves as the commander in chief's "Winter White House.''
Last April, long before the immigration flap, Gonzalez said he loved Trump being in Palm Beach, telling The Tampa Bay Times: "For us, it's been great. People really want to come to Palm Beach to see the scene."
Sculley, who ran Apple for 1983 to 1993 and was at Pepsi from 1970 to 1983, is not the only high-powered Palm Beach notable to come to Gonzalez's defense.
The Daily News says others include: Chris Leidy, grandson of designer icon Lilly Pulitzer; Nick Coniglio, owner of the island's popular E.R. Bradley's Saloon, and Palm Beach Town Council Bruce McAllister.
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