At least 300 of the nearly 700 people detained during the ICE raids in Mississippi last week have been released. But Andres Gomez-Jorge isn’t one of them.
His wife, Juana, and children are desperate to find him.
Juana says she hasn’t slept since her husband was detained.
Gomez-Jorge was working at the Morton Koch Foods plant Wednesday when the raids occurred and has not been in contact with his family since.
Juana invited CNN into the family’s home Monday to discuss how the raids have affected their family.
“We don’t know where he is,” she said. “We don’t know if he’s dead or alive.”
The couple has four children, ages 11, 9, 6 and a toddler, Juana says. In a video that has now gone viral, Juana’s oldest child, Magdalena, was seen crying after her father was detained.
Juana says her daughter loves her father and, like all of her children, is sad that he is gone. “Her father is very important to her. Her heart was moved,” she said of her daughter.
“My children are sad. They are worried,” the mother said. “I don’t know where he is.”
Juana says she doesn’t work and depends on her husband to bring in all their income. She says she doesn’t have any family in the area.
She is afraid she won’t be able to afford rent, utilities or whatever bail she may need to get her husband out of detention. She thinks it could be as much as $6,000 and doesn’t know how or where she would get that much money.
“I feel very powerless. I don’t have a job, only my husband works. I’m thinking, what am I going to do?” she asked.
Juana says she and her husband have lived in the United States for more than a decade and came here for better opportunities.
“He didn’t come here to rob anybody,” Juana explained. “He came here to work. It is out of necessity.”
Juana tells CNN that if her husband is deported she will have no choice but to return to Guatemala with her children in tow. The kids were all born in the United States. They have never been to Guatemala and have told her they don’t want to go, she said.
The fact that her 11-year-old daughter Magdalena’s tearful pleas went viral has not escaped her.
Juana says she is frightened because the entire world has seen her daughter’s face.
She says the family has had interactions with people that have scared them since the video was taken. Juana says that the family has received strange calls with some people even inquiring about adopting Magdalena.
The video has been shared so widely that even US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) responded.
“I understand that the girl is upset, and I get that. But her father committed a crime,” Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of CBP told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union on Sunday.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told CNN Monday that Gomez-Jorge does not have any prior criminal convictions. The father of four was arrested while “working without legal authorization,” Cox said.
Cox said that although Gomez-Jorge has not been convicted of a crime, the US Attorney Southern District of Mississippi will decide whether he or any of the people detained last week will be deported.
All Gomez-Jorge’s family can do now is search for him and wait for his release.
Magdalena seems uncomfortable with the fame she’s garnered. She was very quiet when CNN visited. She worked on her homework and played with her younger siblings after school, sharing soda and candy.
The 11-year-old said her favorite subject is math, so much so that she wants to be a math teacher when she grows up.
But right now, she just wants her dad to come home. Magdalena says a lot of her friends had parents who were detained in the raids and a large number of them, like her, still have a parent in detention.
Her teachers didn’t address the raid when she returned to school the day it occurred, she says.
Juana says she will continue to search for her husband and is looking for a lawyer to help the family. She’s being strong for her kids, telling her daughter not to cry and that they will find a way to pay bond so Gomez-Jorge can come home.
“For my children, I want to find him,” she said. “It’s like there has been a death.”