CHALMETTE, LOUISIANA – It was the morning after Honduran national Marvin Rivera-Martinez was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in front of his wife and U.S.-born 7-month-old child.
Nervous and rattled, members of his family gathered in the living room around a wicker patio couch, with a community organizer who was on the phone with Saint Tammany Parish Jail, where Rivera-Martinez was temporarily being held.
Rachel Taber, an organizer with the Congress of Day Laborers at the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, relayed yet another round of unwelcome news. Visitation hours, Taber told Rivera-Martinez’s wife and her parents, were only on Tuesdays.
It was already Wednesday, and by the following week, Rivera-Martinez would be transferred to Pine Prairie, an ICE processing center about 300 kilometers (186 miles) away from their home in Chalmette, Louisiana.
Shielding her face, unsure of when she would be able to see her husband again, the detained immigrant’s wife, Shelsea, began to weep as her mother, Nolvia, clenched the infant’s stroller, staring into an empty corner.
“Lord, help us,” Nolvia said.
Nolvia attempted to reassure her distraught daughter as best she could. “He’s not alone,” she said. “There are other migrants there.”
Across the country, families of other undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation breathed easier that week in mid-July — if only temporarily — after large-scale immigration raids planned for 10 U.S. cities had mostly failed to materialize. In total, 35 people were detained out of about 2,100 targets, as a part of the ongoing Operation Border Resolve, acting ICE Director Matthew Albence said.
But for Rivera-Martinez’s wife and in-laws, the worst possible damage had been set in motion, or so they feared: an infant might grow up as a U.S. citizen without his dad. His young mother might have to raise him alone.
Retracing the moments leading up to Rivera-Martinez’s arrest on the morning of Tuesday, July 16, feelings of anger and confusion among the family turned to guilt and grief. Despite all the warnings preceding the raids — announced publicly by President Donald Trump — they wondered, how could this have happened?
By Ramon Taylor for VOANEWS.COM
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