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Biden’s shift on workplace raids draws divided reaction among some immigrants

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Posted at 12:26 PM, Oct 26, 2021

PHOENIX — The Biden Administration’s decision to stop immigration raids at workplaces made headlines earlier this month. Politicians broke down along the expected party lines. But the reaction to the news was divided among some of those who immigrated.

“The point here is, are they really going to do this? If you ask me, I don't think so,” expressed Celia Alvarez.

Alvarez is a Phoenix mother who was arrested at an immigration raid 12 years ago. She along with 150 other people were arrested for working without documents at a landscaping company in Phoenix.

“Unfortunately, most of them were deported,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez says she was jailed for months leaving her four children, who are U.S citizens, behind.

“I’ll never forget the time they separated me from my children. I'll never get that back,” said Alvarez.

She says her then 10-year-old daughter had to take the role of a mother and care for her siblings.

“She had to put on my shoes only because her mom was in jail for working, for wanting to give my children a better life,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez says she doesn’t trust U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) will follow the new rules. So she hopes there’s independent oversight to make sure ICE complies and puts an end to raids at workplaces.

She says she understands there’s going to be people against the new rule.

“I can understand, and I respect that this is their country, but it’s work. The work that those who hate us won’t do,” expressed Alvarez.

A divided reaction among some immigrants 

“What business do we have encouraging more undocumented workers when we already have a very high unemployment rate,” expressed Jose Borrajero.

Borrajero is a Cuban immigrant, he says the Biden administration is wrong.

“More workers competing for the same amount of fewer jobs means that there’s going to be more Americans that are going to be displaced, so it doesn’t make any sense,” said Borrajero.

The Biden administration announced they will concentrate on going after the employers who hire undocumented workers.

“I’m all in favor of enforcing the fact that the employer has to check, make sure the employee is a legal, either resident or citizen, but that doesn’t preclude that we also should discourage the individual from coming over,” stated Borrajero.

Alvarez says the employers from the 2009 raid where she was arrested never faced any consequences.

She now has a work permit. Her oldest daughter, the 10-year-old who had to take care of her siblings while she was in jail, joined the U.S. Army at 17 years of age.

“She said she doesn’t want mommy and daddy to have this problem anymore, she wants her family together, she sacrificed for mom and dad," Alvarez said.

Alvarez says she’s resentful of the government for causing her family so much pain, but at the same time has learned the value of forgiveness through her daughter.

“She’s fighting for this country, risking her life for people who don’t want her mom and dad in this country," she said.