IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – A group of Eastern Iowans are now trained to protect refugees from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.
The Iowa City Catholic Worker House taught more than a dozen people how to non-violently intervene in arrests.
“It took about 20 to 25 days to pass through all of Mexico. Suffering from hunger, sleep, and tiredness with the kids, to give my kids a better future,” said Modesta Mateo Pedro, Guatemalan refugee.
Ten days after arriving in Iowa City, Modesta had an appointment with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Her husband went with her and he didn’t make it out.
“After about 20 minutes, someone came out to me and said ‘I’m sorry miss, but we’re not going to let your husband leave, and you need to find yourself a ride back to your apartment. Your husband will stay here and next week he will be deported’,” said Mateo Pedro.
She left Modesta to look after her three children with no money or a job.
“I asked for jobs with people, but they wouldn’t give me work because I had this ankle bracelet ‘Oh my god, I said, how will I survive? I have three kids. How will they eat?’,” said Mateo Pedro.
Organizations like the Iowa City Catholic Worker House helped her get on her feet.
But the worry of ICE coming after her family is still on her oldest son’s mind.
“He is scared and he tells me ‘Mom, what if Immigration comes for me at school. What do I do? What do I do, if they take me? Where will I go if our country is so bad? I don’t want to go there,'” said Mateo Pedro.
That’s why the Catholic Worker House is holding trainings on how to protect refugees during ICE raids.
“How do we help people grow, to become more inclusive and accepting people into the community, as human beings and equal,” said Father Peter Dougherty, outreach coordinator, Meta Peace Team.
Modesta hopes Immigration Enforcement officials recognize their impact.
“They’re not doing great things when they’re separating families. Because it’s sad to tear apart a family and if they were in our shoes, they would see that it’s not right,” said Mateo Pedro.