“That day was shocking for everybody,” said Hernandez, who worked at Corson’s Flower & Garden Center for about six years.
She recalled the details of when nearly 200 U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided Corso’s.
“All of a sudden we heard people running,” said Hernandez, who saw police dogs and men with large guns. “They were everywhere. … They cuffed everybody.”
Hernandez was part of a four-person panel Friday at the free Lunch and Learn program coordinated by Sue Lesch, chairwoman of the Huron County Democratic Party. Also on the panel were: Lynn Tramonte, of America’s Voice, the Rev. Margaret D’Anieri, of St. Paul Episcopal Church in Norwalk, and Natalia Alonso, a 15-year-old Fremont girl who organized the Los Ninos de Corso’s group.
Shortly after the raid took place and people were detained in a bus, the Border Patrol agents celebrated their “big bust,” took selfies and “started making very bad jokes,” Hernandez said. She was in a group that first went to Port Clinton, then to Detroit area and Battle Creek, Mich. Hernandez eventually was released after about a day-and-a-half and posting a $1,500 bond.
As a detainee, Hernandez said people were cuffed by their wrists and ankles and authorities were asked why they were being treated as if they were criminals.
“Do not cry. You guys are like cockroaches,” she said, referring to one comment she heard from a Border Patrol or ICE agent when a mother about 20 years old was separated from her family to be deported to Mexico.
Upon hearing Hernandez’s stories, D’Anieri said she was struck by the “complete lack of dignity.” The pastor said she believes Hernandez is a prophet because she was speaking “truth to power.”
D’Anieri said it’s important to follow one’s conscience and if others understand and join, then perhaps that is the work of the Holy Spirit working through the community.
When Alonso heard about the Corso’s raids, she said “the first thing I thought about was the kids.” The Fremont teenager also wondered about what those children would do without their parents.
“They are going to be lost,” Alonso said.
After offering a ride home to a Hispanic boy, she said she learned which families had been impacted by the raids. She met a Willard woman who was taking care of six children by herself.
“She took them in for one of her siblings,” Alonso said.
Eventually, via the church, the teenager obtained a list of the items the parents and caretakers needed and delivered them.
“After that day, I felt pretty good,” she said.
Tramonte is a part of America’s Voice, a national advocacy group for immigrants. She was asked how one should respond when a person says an immigrant knows they are in the United States illegally. Tramonte said every immigrant wants to be a legal resident and “would if they could be,” but the current system is set up so that doing so is nearly impossible.