FOREST, Miss. (WJTV) – You heard updates from U.S Attorney Mike Hurst on Thursday regarding the case and investigations involving hundreds of undocumented immigrants hired by poultry plants in Mississippi. But where are the families one year later?
With Friday being the one-year anniversary Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents executed search warrants at the worksites accusing them of stealing social security numbers and using fake ID’s to get jobs.
On this very day one year ago, we met Magdalena Gomez outside a gym in Forest where she was taken briefly for food and shelter after her dad was arrested. Now she is pleading for other kids’ parents to be released.
Even while fighting back tears, Magdalena Gomez of Forest in 2019 had the courage to beg immigration authorities to release her dad while she depended on strangers that day for food and comfort.
“Governments please show your hearts and let my parents be free,” Gomez cried last year. “Don’t leave children crying.”
Now Magdalena is 12 years old. Reunited with her dad back in November. When we caught up with her family in Forest, emotions are still on edge.
“He knocked on the door and when I saw him standing over there beside me, I was so happy when I saw him again,” Gomez said. “I was crying because I missed my dad so much. It was hard for me.”
She explained the tyranny her parents fled from Guatemala before she was born. Gomez is worried herself and three siblings will be put in danger if deported.
It is a horrible life there,” Gomez explained. “There’s a lot of poverty there, people try to kill people or kidnap kids and families. I don’t want that to happen to me or my sisters and brothers.”
Since his release, Magdalena’s dad whose name is Andréa must travel two hours for part-time work in construction. But it is still a struggle to keep up forcing them and others to rely on donations for food and rent. They explain much help is still needed.
“The women cannot pay their own bills where they live,” Gomez told us. “Some people got kicked out of where they live and don’t know where to go. Right now, my dad is suffering from hotness. He stays two hours from us.”
After a whole year, other children caught up in this still suffer mentally due to separation. We spoke to Angelina Pablo who wished to not show her face and her nine-year-old daughter Jessica about the absence of her dad Salmon Diego Alonzo. He still sits in a detention center in Louisiana.
“Whenever someone comes and knocks on the door she runs out of the bed and says mommy, my daddy’s, here,” Pablo said. “Then when she sees it’s not her dad she stresses out and she runs back crying.”
There are still ways you can help these kids and their families while they wait for what happens next. Trinity Missionary Church in Forest is accepting donations. You can mail yours to 430 Hillsboro St. Forest, Ms. 39074. Or call El Pueblo Immigration Legal Services at 601-564-7148.