FOREST, Miss. (WJTV) — Following a massive undocumented immigration enforcement operation resulting in more than 650 arrests, many children of those taken into custody were left temporarily homeless.
Community leaders in Forest,Mississippi brought the children to a community gym to provide care andcomfort. 12 News reporter Alex Love was granted permission to talk to communityleaders and the children.
Children relied on neighbors and strangers to pick them up outside their homes after school. They drove the children to a community center where people tried to keep them calm. But many kids could not stop crying for mom and dad.
Fighting back tears, Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, 11, expressed to us her devastation.
“Government please show some heart,”Gregoria cried. “Let my parent be free.”
This came after ICE agents raidedseveral food processing plants in Mississippi arresting 680 people believed tobe in the country illegally.
“While we are a nation of immigrants, more than that we are first and foremost a nation of laws,” Southern District U.S Attorney Mike Hurst argued.
But those children and families who spoke to 12 News impacted by each raid stressed their parents and friends are good people.
“I need my dad and mommy,” Gregoriotold 12 News. “My dad didn’t do anything, he’s not a criminal.”
“Their mom’s been here for 15 yearsand she has no record,” Christina Peralta told us. “A lot of people here haveno record they’ve been here for 10-12 years.”
Christina Peralta, the godmother oftwo children whose mom was arrested, told 12 News she feels helpless as shewatches the boys wonder when they’ll see their mother again.
“He said his mom is gone, that he’supset with Trump, he said he just wants his mom back,” Peralta continued. “Andthey’ve been crying all day long since they got home from school.”
But with the help of Clear Creek BootCamp owner Jordan Barnes and other community leaders, the kids will have aplace to sleep. Good Samaritans have also donated food.
“We’re going to have bedding availablefor them and we’re going to have food available for them just to get themthrough the night,” Barnes explained. “And if they need transportation toschool tomorrow we’ll also take care of that.”
And in times like these, those inForest stress you cannot forget the children.
“I understand the law and howeverything works and everything needs to have a system,” Barnes stated. “Buteverybody needs to hold the kids first and foremost in their minds and that’swhat we’ve tried to do here is give them a place to stay and ease the pain alittle bit.”
To donate food or supplies, callJordan Barnes at The Clear Creek Boot Camp at (601) 940-1690.
UPDATE: All of the children in this story have been reunited with family members while government agencies continue to process the people detained Wednesday.