I live in a very small town high in the Rockies, population 500 or so. Not much goes on up here for the most part. We have our tourism industry and thus we have a lot of restaurants.
It is an open secret in town that many of these ma-and-pa restaurants employ undocumented workers, primarily in their kitchens.
The town is probably 30 percent Hispanic. We are in a part of the Southwest in which names like Salazar and Gallegos go back a long way.
This town is also so small and so isolated that when two well-dressed Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents come to town, everyone knows it within about a half an hour. That happened on Monday morning.
What the mere presence of those two agents did to this small town was kind of shocking.
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In this case Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents came here Monday in search of one individual who had been deported and was suspected to have returned here.
But even that relatively insignificant mission threw our town into turmoil.
ICE was in town. That was enough. The fear spread, and rapidly.
First, most of the undocumented restaurant staffers failed to show for work, leaving the eatery owners scrambling to flip the burgers on their own.
That happened on Tuesday as well as the two ICE agents were still hanging around.
But that wasn't the worst.
The worst was the terrified young children. And I do not use the word terrified lightly.
They were terrified. Dozens of them. Terrified that they may be sent to a country they never knew. Terrified that they would be uprooted from what in many cases was the only home they've ever known. Terrified they may be separated from their parents or siblings. Terrified of the unknown. Terrified to suddenly learn that what they thought had been a peaceful secure life in a beautiful mountain town was not so secure after all.
That it could all end at any moment.
And their friends -- Hispanic and nonHispanic alike -- we too worried about what would happen.
Our K-12 school has less than 100 students, and every one of them was horrified and shocked to find that many of their close friends had suddenly gone into hiding.
In America. In Colorado USA.
Then I felt it. Not sure how to describe it. A combination of shame and outrage, perhaps.
My government is doing this.
These people have been part of my community for years. And my government is terrorizing them. For no good reason.
A significant percentage of this town's population (I would guess maybe 10 percent may be undocumented) were afraid that they would be forced from their homes and deported. For no good reason.
They've worked hard. They've raised good kids. They've done everything they can do to make a better life and be good neighbors, joining our volunteer fire department, our churches, helping with community fundraisers.
No one should have to be put through this. No one. Not the undocumented workers. Not their families. Not their friends. Not this town!
Irrational immigration policies threatened to tear this town apart for two days this week.
No, there was no great roundup and mass deportation. In the end I don't think ICE even got the one guy they were looking for.
But ICE's visit left behind something that will not easily go away.
We now all wonder if and when they will be back. And which of our friends, which of the children, may have to go away.