Families of the undocumented workers detained after a federal immigration raid in Iowa going back to May are still waiting to find out what will happen to them.
And now, they’re looking to the community for help.
Two-dozen men at Midwest Precast Concrete in Mount Pleasant were released on bond with immigration hearings pending to determine their status.
In the meantime, they can’t work.
Local 4’s James Sears caught up with the wife of one of the undocumented workers in this exclusive report.
“It’s really a nice place to live, I love this place,” says Julieta.
Julieta was drawn to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, for it’s small town feel where she says she could raise a family.
The Mexico-native met her husband William nine years ago.
They now have two children, ages 4 and 7.
He came from Guatemala on a work visa, and in 2011, he began the process of applying for U.S. citizenship.
“Too many things happen in our countries,” she says, “and when we come here, we feel the United States is safe.”
Five years ago, he got a job at the local concrete factory, Midwest Precast Concrete.
Then in May, something they never thought would happen here.
ICE agents rounded up 32 undocumented immigrants – including Julieta’s husband.
Julieta tells us, that day is a day she’ll never forget.
“In my mind, the first thing I think about is an accident happened, but i never think about ICE is here. The kids ask ‘what’s going on?’, and we can’t explain how we feel because we don’t know what’s going on.”
Williams’ work visa had lapsed, but since he had begun the citizenship process, he wasn’t deported.
An immigration hearing next May will determine his current status.
In the meantime, he can’t work to support his family.
Local churches are helping with the cost of rent, utilities, food, and legal fees.
“They’re seeking life liberty and pursuit of happiness,” says Rev. Trey Hegar of First Presbyterian Church. “And there’s something good about that, and when we show compassion and love, and give a hand up instead of a hand out, it changes their lives.”
“My kids were born here for some reason I don’t know why” says Julieta. “God gave me that opportunity and then the only thing I want is opportunity for us too, to stay here safe.”
A fundraiser to help with the families’ expenses will take place tomorrow at Modern Woodmen Park from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
You can contact Iowa WINs or make a donation here.
Candidate for Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken helped organize the fundraiser.
He told us, “Irrespective of political views on immigration, no one wants to see young families with children in our region go without adequate food, shelter and heat as winter approaches. This voluntary relief effort seeks to address a growing humanitarian crisis in the spirit of human dignity. It reflects only the generosity and compassion of the people of the Quad Cities for those in need. All people of goodwill are invited to join us without regard to partisan politics.”
His opponent Scott Webster tells Local 4, that the situation is quote “a tragedy.”
“It’s a sad day when any tragedy like this happens to anyone, regardless of immigration status; in this case it’s an illegal immigrant family. What’s a more pressing need from a Scott County perspective is working with the State to take care of our own people via services available and funding thereof. Charity begins at home and caring for those who are legal residents. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. We need compassion and help for the homeless veteran, the elderly, the orphaned children… this should not just be an election year phenomena.
“Congress and the President need to streamline the process in a bi-partisan manner. There is no single-party solution; only one that is compassionate, vetting, and welcoming those who can truly become and who genuinely desire to be Americans. Today’s process can take 10 years or longer. That needs to change. A friend’s mother came to this country in the mid-50’s, it took her 3 years to obtain full citizenship in a legal manner. Those were the days. We can do better.”