LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The threat of raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents has many immigrants in Southern California living in fear.
Immigration attorney Alex Galvez says President Trump’s recent announcement of ICE raids in big cities, including Los Angeles, haven’t materialized. But the threat of them is paralyzing families who are terrified of a knock on the door in the middle of the night — or of agents showing up at their place work.
“We’re seeing a lot of devastation,” Galvez explained.
That includes 9-year-old Jayla Suchite. Look into her eyes and you will see the impact the threat of immigration raids is having on her family.
“My dad means the world to me,” she told CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige.
“We almost feel like we’re caged up,” Jayla’s mother, Delmy, added.
Delmy is a legal resident and her three children are American citizens. But their dad, a Guatemalan immigrant who has lived and worked in the U.S. as a painter for 17 years, is undocumented — and that means he could be arrested and deported at any time.
“We have three children,” Delmy said. Their youngest, a 2-years-old girl, suffers from fevers and seizures. Doctors at Children’s Hospital are trying to figure out the cause. Delmy is also pregnant.
And her 9-year-old daughter is worried one day her family may face life without her father.
“I worry because if my dad wasn’t with us, who would pay the rent? Who would give my mom money to buy food? She couldn’t work because she would have two babies. She’s pregnant,” Jayla asked.
Then, amidst the uncertainty, is the lingering thought of being separated.
“I would miss him a lot,” Jayla said.
Galvez says ICE agents used to prioritize the arrest of undocumented criminals. Now, they are taking away people whose only crime is that they are in this country illegally.
“Even if you’re here undocumented, you’ve never been arrested, you have U.S. citizen children, a spouse who is a U.S. citizen: you will be arrested and you will be processed for deportation,” he said.
That deportation would place Delmy’s family at risk of homelessness. They’re not alone.
“People are losing their jobs. They’re not going to work,” Galvez said. “People are afraid to go out and buy groceries.”
It would also mean the loss of the emotional support of a husband, a father and a friend.
“He’s more than a friend,” Jayla said. “He’s my dad.”