A Colorado family is fighting to stay together after a father was detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Melecio Andazola Morales has been in custody since Oct. 12. His family now is pleading with the government to keep him in Colorado.

"I thought everything was going to be OK, then to hear my dad's lawyer tell me that my dad had been detained without having his rights read to him first," said Viviana Andazola Marquez, Andazola Morales' daughter. "[I] felt sadness because my dad had been very hopeful."

Andazola Morales was previously deported from the U.S. in 1997. He returned a year later and has been in Colorado the past 20 years where he's worked in construction and raised all four of his children.

"My dad tried to do the right thing so he didn't have to have his anxiety anymore, then his worst fear happened anyway," Andazola Marquez said. "He was trying to do right and continue to live peacefully in the U.S. and contribute in the way that he has."

She says her father has tried to gain legal status for the past two decades, but this week ICE decided to reinstate the original deportation order. That's something Cesar Garcia Hernandez, an associate professor of law at University of Denver, says isn't uncommon.

"There is a risk in following the process the federal government wants you to follow," Garcia Hernandez said.

In an email sent to 9NEWS, ICE says Andazola Morales doesn't have an additional criminal background, which Garcia Hernandez says could help his case. Still, it could go either way.

Viviana Andazola Marquez is Melecio Andazola Morales' daughter. She attends school at Yale.
Viviana Andazola Marquez is Melecio Andazola Morales' daughter. She attends school at Yale.

"The government holds the cards and they get to choose whether or not to allow this family to continue along the legal process to obtain his permanent residency," Garcia Hernandez said.

Andazola Morales remains at the Denver Detention Facility in Aurora. His attorney is working to get a judge to grant him a stay of removal.

A vigil to support him and his family will happen Tuesday at the Aurora ICE Processing Center at 6:30 p.m.

There are also events to support the family on Yale's campus, where Andazola Marquez attends school.