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In Lake Worth, Immigrant Communities Brace For Promised Immigration Enforcement Raids

Inside the small offices of the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, volunteers, employees and the people there seeking help were bracing for rumored immigration enforcement raids over the weekend.
Madeline Fox
Inside the small offices of the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, volunteers, employees and the people there seeking help were bracing for rumored immigration enforcement raids over the weekend.

In Lake Worth, immigrants and the nonprofits who serve them are gearing up for rumored raids by immigration enforcement this weekend.

Some people have heard about the possible raids this weekend through the news, or from friends and neighbors.

Two high school volunteers with the Guatemalan-Maya Center are trying to spread the word even further. They sent text messages to more than 1,000 people who have come to the Center for help in the past, to let them know immigration raids are rumored this weekend.

The texts included a link to a “Know Your Rights” video on the center’s Facebook page that explains what to do if immigration enforcement shows up at the door.

Emily Martinez and Laisha Martinez (no relation), who will be juniors this fall, said they are trying to reach 3,000 people by the weekend. 

“We have a lot left to do,” said Laisha Martinez.

They have also heard from friends and neighbors that many are worried about showing up to local summer camps and grocery stores where immigration enforcement might be present.

“Many are scared to drive,” said Emily Martinez. “They think they’re going to be stopped by one of the police officers or ICE agents and they’re going to get pulled out of their cars.”

Beatriz, a  woman from Chiapas, Mexico who’s been in the U.S. more than a decade, said she’s carrying her children’s US passports everywhere in a Ziploc bag. Some of her children were born here, but she’s not a citizen.

She says she hopes her kids’ documentation will offer some protection if she’s stopped on the street.

Tim Gamwell, the Guatemalan-Maya Center’s assistant director, said he’s been stressing to people that being swept up by immigration enforcement raids might not be the end of their options – they can still get legal help.

“It may feel like it’s a catastrophe, but there is hope, and there are possibilities for relief,” he said.

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Madeline Fox is a senior at Northwestern University, where she is double majoring in journalism and international studies. She spent most of her time there writing and editing at the Daily Northwestern, her campus paper, before launching a podcast called Office Hours last spring. Though a native of the much-parodied hipster paradise of Portland, Oregon, Madeline has spent the last three years moving around a lot: Chicago for school, a stint covering transportation policy on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. for Medill News Service and a summer covering news at the Wichita Eagle in Kansas. After finally getting her passport about a year and a half ago, she's been working to fill it with stamps, too: She spent a semester in Sevilla, Spain, to study history; traveled to Israel and the West Bank this summer to learn about Middle East reporting and went to France this winter to conduct interviews for her thesis on the Paris suburbs. When she's not reporting, Madeline can be found cooking, reading or wandering around different parts of the city – nearly always with earbuds in, listening to podcasts. A few of her favorites are Crimetown, Radio Ambulante and Radiolab's More Perfect. She's very excited to be living in Miami, with its many new neighborhoods to explore and its famous food and beaches. After graduation, Madeline hopes to continue working in radio or podcasting.
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