Volunteers have given everything from diapers to legal advice to families affected by the Pilgrim’s Pride immigration arrests in April.
More than 15 organizations have donated about $50,000 in food and rent money to help the arrested immigrants and their families, according to members of the Hispanic Displacement Relief Coalition, a group created in response to the arrests.
“(The agencies) have come together to try to help them in some way, a minimum effort because the need is too big,” said Sylvia Rangel, who works at La Paz de Dios, a Hispanic outreach organization.
So far the organization has distributed close to 100 boxes of food and hygiene products through the international group Feed the Children and Chattanooga’s Partnership for Families, Children and Adults.
Other organizations have distributed Wal-Mart gift cards, diapers and clothes. More than 20 lawyers from across the state have provided legal advice or represented those who want to contest their cases.
The Metropolitan Ministry of the Episcopal Commission of Southeast Tennessee has given the families more than $37,000 to cover rent and pay their bills, said Rebecca Whelchel, executive director of the ministry.
Ms. Whelchel said this is “a time of crisis” for the families.
“We feel we don’t have a choice other than to respond,” she said.
Still, the organizations are struggling to provide everything that’s needed, Mrs. Rangel said.
“We are still looking, we are still working, to find more funds and donations to help these families,” she said.
The Guatemalan Consulate in Atlanta also came to an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement so La Paz de Dios could drive 16 people and a couple of children to Atlanta on July 1 to process travel documents to return to Guatemala. To broker the deal, the Guatemalan Consulate worked in conjunction with La Plaza Comunitaria, a program through Chattanooga State Technical Community College and the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta that helps immigrants with Spanish and English language skills.
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 ...