In what is believed to be the largest immigration raid in decades, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized 680 workers at seven poultry plants in Mississippi last week leaving families torn apart and in chaos and dozens of children coming home from school to find nobody there.
A group of Wisconsinites are rallying to provide a little hope in a very sad situation by gathering a truckload of supplies to bring to families in need in an initiative they are calling “Helping Families in Mississippi.” On Friday, Aug. 15, the truck will leave Centro Hispano in Madison and bring the supplies down to a local church in Mississippi that is working to help temporarily house and feed those affected by the raid.
“They arrested 680 people … that is a lot of people. This was something that was very intentional, very directed. It was very hostile to do this to these families,” says Janelle Pérez Martinez, who is helping to organize this drive. “It was a hard thing for people to watch.
“I’ve been doing some work locally with a group of community members, activists, and people who really want to spend time collecting and donating items for the people being affected mainly by negative immigration impacts such as women and children at the border,” Pérez Martinez continues. “We’ve been able to give some donations to people down at the border in McAllen, Texas, and San Antonio. Even on the Mexican side of the border where there are asylum seekers, we’ve been able to help with wellness kits and giving them the basic needs to survive.
“So when the issue came up about what was happening in Mississippi hit the news a few of us who were doing this kind of work for the border wanted to do the same thing for the families and children who were affected by the raids in Mississippi,” she adds. “We wanted to do as much coordinating, donating, and fundraising as possible because 680 people are a lot of people being affected – that’s a lot of displaced and separated families.”
What started out as a group chat to raise funds got larger with a connection to the Crusaders of Justicia, a group from the Appleton area that mobilizes exploited families and their allies to fight for justice.
“They said that they would be willing to bring down to Madison a box truck that they’ve been filling up over there on a day that we like and have the remaining part filled up with supplies,” Pérez Martinez says. “Once they confirmed that they would be able to come up on Friday, I reached out to Centro Hispano to see if they would be able to host the parking spot at their location.”
Pérez Martinez and Jessie Alarcon have been leading the charge to collect items here in Dane County and are encouraging the community to bring items to Centro Hispano of Dane County.
“We are looking for non-perishable food items, sanitary items, laundry detergents, shampoo, conditioner, things of that sort,” Pérez Martinez says. “For women, we are looking for sanitary and personal hygiene items. For children, we are hoping to get some gently used clothing. We are looking for bookbags, school supplies, diapers, wipes, creams, towels, bibs, formula. We’re looking to hit all of the basic needs for when people have been displaced.”
Donations should be dropped off over the next day and a half. The truck arrives at 3:30 p.m. to Centro Hispano, 810 West Badger Rd., and will be departing soon afterward for Mississippi.
‘In Madison, in my time doing fundraising and looking for donations, I’ve found that people are very giving and generous,” Pérez Martinez says. “It’s helped our work to be very effective and impactful because of that. I think Centro is a great location to be able to collect the donations that we need to help others nationally.”