A Florida dad who thought he was reuniting with his lost wallet was instead greeted by an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who arrested him for being undocumented, his family said.
Flavio Musmanno was surprised to receive a call on Aug. 28 from a person saying they had found his wallet and would be able to return it to him.
The North Miami Beach man had dropped it hours earlier while working on a construction job in Ohio. It contained an expired ID, $40 in cash and a few credit cards, but nothing with his phone number, his family told the Miami New Times.
But Musmanno agreed to meet who he thought was a good Samaritan at a local truck stop to get his wallet back.
Instead, he was met by an ICE agent, his family said.
“He has now spent one month in prison although he has no criminal record, is married to my mother who is a U.S. Citizen and they have a son who was born in the U.S.," a relative wrote on GoFundMe page established on Sept. 27.
Musmanno was living on an expired visa, but was working toward becoming an American by filing a Form I-130 in request for a green card, the New Times reported.
“They just want to deport him!” his stepdaughter Paola told the New Times. "We sent them the petition he filed, but they just ignored it and keep saying they’re going to deport him."
Loved ones said they fear for Musmanno's safety should he be made to return to his home country of Argentina.
“Things are not good where we came from — if people find out he was living in Miami, they might think he has money and try to rob him or kidnap him,” Paola said.
Musmanno was being held at Ohio’s Seneca County Jail, the New Times reported. He was scheduled to be deported Tuesday, but it was not immediately clear if he was transported out of the country on that day.
Relatives have sent letters to ICE, begging officials to reconsider Musmanno’s deportation, but “they denied his release,” they said on the GoFundMe page.
They created the page to raise money for Musmanno’s immigration lawyer. As of Wednesday, the page had collected about $2,700.
“This campaign will help my father reestablish himself in Argentina, cover lawyer expenses, help my family resume our lives with some financial support (since he covered most of our family expenses) and to continue the fight for us to be able to reunite with our father,” the page said. “He will be leaving behind his wife, four children and two grandchildren."
When reached by InsideEdition.com for comment, a spokeswoman for ICE referred inquiries to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which released the following statement:
"Per U.S. Customs and Border Protection policy we are not authorized to discuss tactics used in the apprehension of this individual. At the time of his arrest, Flavio Francisco Musmanno was illegally present in the United States for nearly 18 years after entering the country on the Visa Waiver program.
"Individuals who overstay the terms of their visa are unable to obtain legal status pursuant to INA 245(c)(4). U.S. Border Patrol verified that at the time of his arrest, Mr. Musmanno had no petitions on file to change his legal status to permanent residency. Musmanno was processed and turned over to ICE/ERO for removal."