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How to Help Deported Athens Immigrants’ Families

Photo Credit: courtesy of ICE

In March, a slew of undocumented immigrants were taken by Immigration Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.

Many families were affected economically and emotionally by the sudden raid.

One family (first names will only be used) was separated during the March raids and are still currently separated.

Carlos, an undocumented immigrant of Mexican nationality, was taken by ICE during the middle of the night as he and his family were sleeping. His wife, Teresa, awoke to a loud thud on their door, and she was frightened.

Carlos woke up instantly and jumped out of bed thinking it may have been the police. With a minimum comprehension of the English language, he tried to make out what these officers were saying to him, but he couldnt.

He cracked the door open not knowing who they were until he saw ICE on their vests, and they quickly bombarded their way into his home, handcuffed him, and transported him to a detention center.

They came into my home, we were so scared, and I couldnt stop them because I was afraid they would take me too,Teresa said.

ICE took Carlos away from his wife, who is currently eight months pregnant, and their two children. 

Carlos and Teresa have lived in Athens for 15 years. They keep to themselves and work very hard to make ends meet. They are not dangerous, nor are they a threat to the communitys security; they are simply making a living. But because Carlos popped up onto ICEs website. he was taken and forced to leave his family.

Carlos wakes up at 5 a.m. to go to work every day, arriving home at 3 p.m. and seeing his wife for an hour, until she goes to work at 4 p.m. and does not return until 3 a.m. 

I dont know what to do. I do not have any money for a lawyer. I can barely pay our bills. I just want to get my husband out,Teresa said as she teared up.

This is simply one anecdote among many other families who have been severely affected by the raids. Husbands, uncles, wives, aunts and children have either been taken away or left alone.

Pinewoods Estates, a mobile home community off Highway 29 in northeast Athens, is home to a concentrated Latino population.

The families living there had the highest number of undocumented immigrants picked up during the raid. Many of the families are in need of financial help since most of those who were taken were husbands and/or the primary provider.

A fundraiser for those families is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Pinewoods library. It starts with a walkathon at 2 p.m. The suggested donation is $3.

A soccer game will follow at 5 p.m., then a free puppet show at 7 p.m. Food will be sold as well.

Anyone who wants to contribute but can’t make it can donate through GoFundMe. $655 of the $5,000 goal has been raised so far.

Many are not aware that undocumented immigrants live in fear of ICE raids. They fear returning home. One should always be conscious that many of these immigrants came in search for a better life. They have come to the U.S. to escape persecution, gangs and cartel-dominated territories.

Many Latin American countries are confronted with the aforementioned issues. Women are raped, men are beaten and killed, and children are kidnapped and forced into gangs or sex trafficking. This is the life many choose to escape and risk their lives to save themselves and their family. These were the reasons Carlos and his wife fled to the U.S. 

Pinewoods Estates and surrounding neighborhoods are in need of the communitys support now more than ever.