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Mississippi Raids Leave Trail of Traumatized Children and Families

 

“Edna Perez, 14, clutches a white stuffed teddy bear that says ‘Jesus Loves Me’ as she thinks about the last time she heard her dad’s voice”

Days after a series of raids in Mississippi, resulting in the arrests of 680 immigrant workers, traumatized communities are attempting to pick up the pieces, distraught children and families search desperately for their loved ones, and the future of their lives in the U.S. remains uncertain and riddled with fear.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration fails to acknowledge the chaos that ensued after poor planning left children stranded with nowhere to go and no one to turn to and officials continue to defend the use of such heavy-handed tactics. 

NPR’s Morning Edition: “Advocates Scramble To Help Mississippi Families Caught Up In ICE Raids” 

Angel Lopez: 

These past few days have been hard. 

Because I have had to stay strong for my family.  

My mom’s afraid now because ever since they got my father. There has been no calls from him no contact and we’ve tried to see where he is but the most we’ve gotten is that he’s in Louisiana. 

I’ve just been mad about the whole thing really, because the El Paso shooting, it had just happened a week ago and then why would you give an order like that for the raids to just happen like that? When people are still grieving?

Debbie Elliott: 

The enforcement has left the community gripped with fear.

 …Evelyn is a 20 year old born in Mississippi to parents who came here from Guatemala.

Evelyn: 

…now they don’t want to come out the house. They don’t want to go get anything, not even go to the store. 

Debbie: 

She doesn’t want to use her last name because her father was arrested and she says her family is traumatized and fears further repercussions. Her 10 year old brother Darby is distraught from what happened last Wednesday. 

Darby: 

It was like the second day at school. I came back because I was knocking on the door, nobody answered.  

Debbie: 

He eventually found his mother hiding in a car with some relatives. She had been running late for work the day of the raids and avoided arrest. Now she’s afraid to go back to her job. Avalon says it took three days to find out that her father is being held at a detention center in Natchez, Mississippi. They’re not sure what’s next. 

CNN: “Their parents were taken in Mississippi immigration raids. For these kids, the trauma is just beginning:

Pricila is terrified her mom will be taken.

Edna told her best friend she’s scared ICE agents will come to their school.

Juana keeps asking where her stepdad went.

…Pricila Mateo has been struggling to sleep. Her mom was released Wednesday night. But the 16-year-old says she’s haunted by details her mom told her about the raid at the Peco Foods plant where she worked in Canton, Mississippi. And she’s even more frightened that at any moment her mom could be taken again — and that she won’t be able to do anything to stop it.

…Edna Perez, 14, clutches a white stuffed teddy bear that says “Jesus Loves Me” as she thinks about the last time she heard her dad’s voice, about how she may never see his little red car in their driveway again, about how she’d laugh when he chased her and her little sisters around the house.

She’s only spoken on the phone once with him since he was detained. She panicked when she heard a guard telling him to say “bye-bye.” She shouted in the phone to tell him not to sign anything. She’s worried he didn’t hear her.

…Magdalena Gomez Gregorio’s voice was heard around the world. After her father was detained last week, the 11-year-old pleaded on camera for the government to have a heart.

“I need my dad. … He’s not a criminal,” she said, sobbing as she waited with other children at a local gym that offered food and shelter on the day of the raids to children whose parents had been taken.

The New York Times: “After ICE Raids, the Parking Lot Was Crowded, but No One Was There to Work:

But the raids across the state now have scores of families wondering where they belong, which members might stay and who might be forced to leave. In a store Friday morning, a 36-year-old woman named Juana — who like many undocumented people declined to give her last name because she feared being targeted by the authorities — clutched a bouquet of cilantro, trailed by her 2-year-old daughter, Emily.

Her husband had been picked up in the raid, she said. He talked to her on the phone on Thursday, she said, and told her he was going to be deported.

“It’s horrible. I’m afraid. I’ve lost him,” she said in Spanish. She motioned to her little girl, in pigtails and wearing a shirt that declared, in English, “I’m a princess worth waiting for.”

“She is going to be without her father,” Juana said.

Emily, the little girl, was born in the United States. Juana said it made sense for the two of them to try to stay and make it in America.

“I don’t want to go back” to Guatemala, she said. “There’s violence everywhere.”

NBC News: “What ICE did and did not do for kids left behind by Mississippi raids

The Mississippi raids swept up almost 700 workers from six plants. Of those detained, 342 were from the Koch Foods and PH Foods facilities in Morton, Miss., 252 from PECO plants in Canton, Bay Springs and Sebastopol, and 86 from Pearl River Foods in Carthage. There were no arrests at a seventh plant because no workers were present.

Because of the lack of preparation for the impact of missing parents, local authorities had to improvise. One school district said it instructed bus drivers to make sure they saw a parent or a guardian at the bus stop before dropping off a child. In that district, children without parents at home were taken back to school to spend the night.

“What I saw was traumatic, painful,” said Elizabeth Iraheta, who witnessed the raid on a food processing plant where she works in Morton. “I’m thinking of the separated families, fathers and mothers deported, children left alone because their parents were arrested.”