Who Will Take Care of the Children?


Who will take cdeportacion_en_des_moines_3are of the children? Was the message of 900 Latino working families and friends of immigrants that were intercepted by the authorities on the morning of Dec. 12 at the Swift Company in Marshalltown, Iowa. The Iowa Division of Latino Affairs office received a call around 9 a.m. that morning notifying them of the ‘morning roundup’ that took place involving the employees leaving work form their night shift and those entering work for the morning shift. In various interviews conducted by the Office of Latino Affairs, what was most notable was the sheer number of couples that were at the company at the time of the raid. With tears in her eyes, a sister in law of one of the couples said that she didn’t have the courage to go home and tell her nephews, who were still at school, that their parents were being taken into custody. Sarah Hernandez says she remembers seeing a similar raid in 1996. She also added that the company had been firing people since this summer but then stopped, which made people believe that ‘things had cooled off’. But one of the most hearth-wrenching scenes was that of a man carrying his 4 year old daughter, wrapped in a bath towel, who said having feelings of despair because his wife was undocumented and had barely begun to work at Swift two months prior. He also revealed he had another child at home and was feeling anguished with the idea that he’d never see his wife again and he’d have to care for the children alone. “How is it possible not to feel the pain of having my mother ripped away from me,” said a humiliated Marshalltown High School student, Maria Alvarez. The teenager expressed profound dismay because of the way they conducted the raid and the insecurity of having to be in charge of her four siblings. Immigration officials said that if both parents had been arrested the opportunity to decide who would stay to care for the children and who would have to go would be up to them. In the case of the single parents they would have to provide proof of being single, and the total dependence of their child or children, but the decision would be up to a judge. Many of the people found outside of the company felt even more appalled due to the day this was done, because Dec. 12 is the day that Mexicans celebrate Our Lady Guadalupe, and because of the Christmas season, which families usually celebrate together. Some of the latest information gathered came from Alicia Rodriguez, a Latina employee of the company, who was hit on her left shoulder by an immigration official. “We were at the ‘lockers’ when a women of dark skin, short, and with a Hispanic accent came in yelling to everyone, threatening to take us out by force if we didn’t get out quickly; I told her that she shouldn’t yell at us that way, and she said she could do whatever she wanted, hitting me with the her rod”. Apparently this woman hit two others. When these women were able to complain about the actions, they were asked to identify the women but she was no longer there. Family members of the immigrants that were detained accused Braulio Pereira, president of the company union of being involved with the raid. Apparently Pereira knew of this raid and failed to let the undocumented workers know, he only told the people close to him. He also refused to help Cecilia Rodriguez who also expressed that he chose not to intervene when she was hit because “they’re federal authorities and we can’t do anything about the matter.”

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