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Austin, TX – A week after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement workplace raid in North Texas detained more than 150 immigrants, nearly a third still remain in ICE custody while those released are now left to pick up the pieces from having lost their job and under the remaining threat of being torn from their families.
This morning, the Texas Tribune’s Julian Aguilar piece on the raid included the story of Hildebrando Torres Jimenez, a father of two daughters, who was ensnared during the raid, and who is unsure if he’ll be able to stay with his children, both of whom are U.S. citizens.
Torres Jimenez, along with several others who have now posted bond and have been released, remain sheltered in the local Paris church of Iglesia Evangelica Filadelfia. Organizers from RAICES, Workers Defense Project, Cosecha, Justice for Neighbors, among other local groups, have provided legal support and resources to those who have been released and continue to raise funds for those still in detention.
Below is an excerpt from the Texas Tribune piece from Julian Aguilar. Find the piece in its entirety here.
PARIS — Hildebrando Torres Jimenez received long-awaited good news last week: He was awarded primary custody of his 3- and 4-year old daughters after a long legal fight with his girlfriend. Then the undocumented immigrant from Mexico was rounded up in an immigration raid at Load Trail, a trailer factory just outside this North Texas town.
“In one moment it was like work stopped and we didn’t have anything to do, so I walked toward my coworker to ask what was going on,” Torres, 24, said. “And when I turned around, that’s when I saw the agents.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents rounded up more than 150 undocumented immigrants on Aug. 28 in one of the agency’s largest enforcement actions in decades. As of Tuesday, about one third of the immigrants were still in immigration detention facilities in North Texas or Oklahoma, according to ICE.
On Tuesday, a large “Now Hiring” sign hung outside of the plant in Sumner, about 10 miles outside of Paris. According to the company’s website, it employs more than 500 workers.
Torres was released after two days when he posted a $5,000 bond. On Tuesday, as he balanced his youngest daughter on his knee with one hand, he clutched with the other a folder with documents that could determine whether he’ll be separated from the daughters he’s fought to protect. He has a notice to appear before an immigration judge later this month. After that, he’s unsure of what will happen.
“My biggest fear is that I’ll get deported and my daughters will be left without my supervision because their mother can’t be with them,” he said. His daughters are both U.S. citizens, and their mother is only allowed supervised visits.
Torres found himself at Paris’ Iglesia Evangelica Filadelfia, which for the last week has doubled as a one-stop shop for former Load Trail workers who have been released on bond and aren’t sure how to proceed with their cases.
The effort is a collaboration between the Workers Defense Project, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), the East Texas-based Justice for Our Neighbors, Movimiento Cosecha, and local volunteers who are helping the immigrants with legal advice, money for utility bills or a free meal, said Dalila Reynosa, the program administrator.
The center was up and running less than 24 hours after news of the raid, which reportedly involved 300 ICE officers, broke. The volunteers are gathering information about whether workers are owed wages and how they were hired. Load Trail has a history of hiring unauthorized workers: The Dallas Morning News reported the company was fined about $450,000 in 2014. It was also ordered to use the federal E-Verify system to verify employment status, but television station WFAA reported the company found a way around the mandate.