Last week, a workplace immigration raid in Sandusky, Ohio took away more than 100 mothers and fathers working at two different Corso’s Flower and Garden Centers. Following are the stories of some of the families affected by the raids.
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Rodolfo Reyes is a Mexican-born U.S. citizen. For the past six years he has worked at Corso’s Garden Center, where his teenage daughter is also employed. During the raid, agents zip-tied Reyes and his daughter even though they are both US citizens. The officers, according to Reyes, were “very, very rough.”
Reyes was separated from his daughter when ICE grouped those arrested by gender. When Reyes asked an officer, “Could I see my daughter?” the officer responded with, “Your daughter is not a baby anymore.” He reconnected with his daughter later and discovered she was okay. About the raids Reyes stated, “We should be treated like human beings, not animals. I am a U.S. citizen. But it doesn’t matter where you are or who you are or where you are from. We are supposed to be treated like humans. We shouldn’t be treated like animals. Everybody was running, and they were throwing dogs on the people and pointing guns. That’s ridiculous. That’s too much.”
Johan Alvarez is the 9-year-old son of a worker arrested in the raid. His dad took a photo of himself on the bus, as he was being taken away by Immigration and Customs officers. Most of the kids who lived in the neighborhood are now staying with family and friends, because one or both of their parents were rounded up in the raid.
Litzy Morales is a 17-year-old who was on her second day of work at Corso’s when the raid happened, and was not picked up because she is a U.S. citizen. But her undocumented mother was taken away by ICE agents bearing firearms. Her mother told her, “Don’t cry in front of your siblings. You’re the oldest one. You have to be strong for them.”
Jerry is an 18-year-old U.S. citizen whose mother was taken in the raid, and is now responsible for his younger brother and sister, ages 9 and 12. When he received the call about Corso’s, he rushed over to see his mom, but an agent pulled him over and handcuffed him. Jerry said he had been saving money to go to college by working in construction from a young age. “But now this has happened I’m going to use some of that money to support my brother and sister.”
Flor is a high school student whose mother was arrested. As she said, “I was at work. I was getting phone calls and messages from her. I felt bad because I couldn’t answer the phone because I was too busy working. I finally called her back and she was yelling and screaming: ‘They took me! They took me! Immigration got me!’”
Juan Perez received a call at 4 a.m. from his brother, saying he was being deported. Less than 48 hours had passed since his brother was picked up at Corso’s.
Another Juan Perez is a 15-year-old who lives in the Jefferson Street mobile home park community, whose mother was taken. His father, separately from the raid at Corso’s, is also facing deportation. As he said, “It’s not just me; I have a 13-year-old brother and a 9-year-old sister. If [my parents] get deported, we might have to go into foster care or be sent back to Mexico. … Life in Mexico is hard.” Hesaid he misses his mother and said “it’s so hard” without her. “I love her. She’s my mother. I need her. I don’t want to lose my mom. It’s so hard.”
Saira Hernandez’s son was taken in the raid, and now she is afraid for the rest of her family. “We can’t call the doctor or go to the police,” she said.
Jimmy Rodriguez is an 18-year-old Dreamer and DACA recipient whose father was taken in the raid. Three hours after the raid, Jimmy was back working his job at Corso’s at his father’s urging. He says his father’s responsibilities are now his, and that he must now take care of his mom and siblings, working 17-hour shifts at Corso’s to do so.
Amanda was detained by ICE, forced to wear an ankle monitor, and will have to face a judge in the coming days. She’s been hoping to reunite with family and friends, but many of them have been detained and not returned.
Meyela’s husband was arrested in the raid, and she has three young children, the youngest of whom is only three months old. “This is an injustice,” she told Spanish-language outlet Telemundo, “because we are here working. My husband doesn’t have a criminal record.”
Rosa Ramos’s stepfather was taken into custody. She asked her stepdad if they were going to take his cellphone away. He replied, “No, but it will run out of battery. If I don’t see you guys anymore, I love you guys. Please take care of my kids.” She doesn’t know where he’s been taken since the raid. As she explained about why he came to America: “Most immigrants come here for a better life. Come here to work and provide for their family that they have in Mexico. For their children that they have here.”
Eyman’s mother was detained, and with the stress of the raid began to feel sick. She began vomiting and felt dizzy, and was taken to a hospital. Eyman took a video as they kept her handcuffed while she lay in the hospital bed.
Salma Sabala worked at the nursery with her mother and sister, and told WNWO-TV that undercover officers initially misled employees by showing up in their break room with boxes from Dunkin’ Donuts. Then the arrests began. “They’re armed. They had the dogs. We hear the helicopters on top of us,” Salma said. “They took them on a big bus. All I could think about is my mom, because I didn’t know where she was, and also my sister, because I didn’t know where my sister was, either. And everyone was just crying.”
The below quotes are from the Sandusky Register:
Sandra Procoter/si Fuentes: My husband is a father to my children, and he has been taken from us. We have been robbed our pursuit of happiness and its an absolute injustice. We just wanted a better life and people have assumptions that we are all illegals. My husband was in the process of gaining citizenship and has been living in the U.S. for years. But the government makes it impossible to gain citizenship, intentionally creating roadblocks on our road to citizenship.”
Britany Castillo Moraeas: My family pays taxes, despite what people think. Don’t downgrade us. My family lives a very honest life and works very hard.
Sarah Black: My five-year-old daughter has a hard time understanding why her dad has not returned home to her. 10 years my husband has been working at Corso’s, and this is such a terrible situation to be in. We need him home. My children need their father home. My husband is the sole provider of this family and he was ambushed at work and forced to leave his family behind. He belongs in this community with his family.
Liz Lugo: My granddaughter’s father was deported three years ago, and she has not seen her father since the deportation. My daughter, Vanessa Roblero, was in a sticky situation because she wanted her family to be together and not separated, but her daughter has a birth defect that needs constant care making the move to Mexico unfathomable. These raids are tearing families apart, causing sadness and difficult decisions that nobody should have to make.
Vanessa Roblero: My husband was taken from our family three years ago. My 9-year-old child has been separated from her dad and it has caused a huge emotional and mental toll on her. After the recent raid, my daughter started to ask me difficult questions like, ‘Are people getting arrested because they are Mexican mommy?’, ‘Will I be taken from you, mommy?’ And that was very hard for me to see my daughter in fear. This is why I brought my kids to this rally, because I want to be a good role model for my kids. To show solidarity and to fight for the rights of these human beings. My kids and I want to speak up for the voiceless people who deserved to be heard.
Monica Alonso: I feel a lot of sadness. One thing I don’t feel is hopelessness. To be silent is an agreement, and I do not agree with recent events. That is why I am attending this rally, to show solidarity with cross workers and the children who are impacted by this raid. We all know what is right and what is wrong, and no family deserves to be torn apart.”
Estla Castillo: I see myself in these kids who are being impacted by this raid because I was them, and I want to be their voice. Nobody truly understands the process of gaining citizenship. It took me 16 years to become a legal citizen, and I was constantly in fear during that time. It takes a lot of time and money to become legal. I came to America when I was 2-years- old, this is the only home I know.
Mcynzie Nebergall: I am very disappointed in our government. The people who were arrested are good people who are just trying to work hard and support their families. What have they done to deserve this? Nobody deserves to be treated so poorly. This experience has evoked strong emotions in me because I see how this has impacted my community, my friends at school are now mother or fatherless, and I can’t imagine losing my parents. I just feel so much frustration and sympathy.
Alexis Santiago: When I see injustice happening, I want to participate and be proactive. It is very scary protesting during these times and it takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe. But this experience is so worth the fear. I want to support these individuals and to end the negative stereotypes towards people of color. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Lisey Refugio: My three uncles were taken by ICE. This experience is very difficult for me to talk about, but I believe my families story is important and deserves to be heard by others. I love my family and I hate seeing my people being displaced. One positive thing about this raid is that our communities are coming together to make changes by bringing hope and solidarity.