Marshalltown, IA- U.S. immigration authorities have deported an Iowa Pastor who was convicted of DUI years ago despite the numerous protests and rallies held in his honor.

Pastor Max Villatoro, 41, a Mennonite from Iowa City, was caught up in an immigration sweep that targeted high-priority immigrants, those who are undocumented or have criminal records.

Villatoro’s DUI arrest from 1998 placed him on the priority list.

The DUI conviction alone probably didn’t lead to Villatoro’s deportation, he was also convicted of record tampering which stemmed from a charge that he stole a social security card in order to obtain and driver’s license, Fox Latino reported.

Villatoro was deported back to his native Honduras on March 13th. In an interview with Fox News Latino, his wife said the federal government is “destroying families like mine.”

Protestors gathered signatures and held rallies in an effort to stop his deportation, but their efforts were unsuccessful. His advocates, which included U.S. Congress members said he deserved to stay in the U.S. for all the good work he has done.

In response to the outcry over Villatoro’s arrest, the USCIS said of their enforcement efforts, “ICE considers DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders, to be a significant public safety threat.”

Villatoro’s case is yet another example of why anyone facing a DUI charge should enlist an attorney to work on their defense. An Iowa DUI attorney will work very hard to develop the best defense strategy which can will help their clients avoid a DUI conviction. If a conviction cannot be avoided, an attorney is necessary and will be instrumental in securing a plea bargain.

It is so important to fight a DUI charge because the consequences can have far reaching effects, as Villatoro’s case clearly demonstrates. A person convicted of their first DUI charge faces anywhere between 48 hours to one year in jail, along with costly fines and suspension of their driver’s license.

This issue of whether an immigrant can be deported for a DUI conviction came up last year Canadian-import and pop singer Justin Bieber was facing DUI charges in South Florida. Bieber as since accepted a plea bargain and has not faced deportation.

The Immigration Nationality Act says an immigrant is removable for a felony criminal conviction or a combination of misdemeanor convictions. Any criminal conviction, even if is something as seemingly minor as a DUI can put an immigrant in the sights of immigration agents. Even accepting a plea bargain can put an immigrant, legal or not, in the sights of immigration agents.

Villatoro’s case is another reminder of the long-term impact a DUI conviction can have on an individual’s future. Too few people realize how costly a DUI conviction can be and how long they will be living the consequences of their actions. When you have a DUI attorney on your side, you have a better chance of avoiding a conviction. If you are facing a DUI charge, whether you are a citizen or an immigrant, you should contact one of the DUI attorneys at USAttorneys so they can start working on your case.