Staff Photos by Gillian Bolsover
La Paz de Dios’ bus is packed during a trip to the Guatemalan Consulate in Atlanta on July 1. The trip was organized to allow those affected by the Pilgrim’s Pride arrests to get their Guatemalan passports and register their children.
They knew they were here illegally but decided to take the risk, hoping for better than what they left behind. They got jobs, rented homes and built lives in Chattanooga. For a while, the risk paid off. Then, one morning four months ago, their luck ran out. On April 16, supervisors at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant called some employees to a meeting in the cafeteria. “Someone stood in front of us and introduced himself (in English),” said 28-year-old César Mazariegos, who was arrested in the raid. “As soon as he said the word ‘immigration,’ we all stared at each other. We knew what that meant. Immediately after, we were surrounded by agents carrying weapons.” Since the raid, dozens of Chattanooga families have faced financial hardship and the harsh reality of being caught as illegal immigrants, a reality that can include jail, monitoring bracelets on ankles, lawyers, federal judges, deportation, even the fracturing of a family.
Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...