In the extreme south of Miami-Dade County, Homestead extends, not only housing the largest center for undocumented minors in the United States, but also many rural workers, most of them undocumented, who are currently in a state of threat of massive raids.
This city, located 35 miles southwest of Miami and covered with large tracts of crops, is mainly an agricultural area that employs about 40,000 workers, a large percentage undocumented, as noted by local organization WeCount, which looks after immigrants.
“I’m very scared, my only crime in this country has been to walk without a document, I do not hurt anyone, I’m not a criminal,” said a 40-year-old Mexican woman, who prefers not to identify herself for fear of reprisals and who works on the crops of this town, the last enclave before Florida Keys.
The woman, mother of three children of 19, 14 and 5 years old, alludes in this way to the expiration of the two-week deadline given by the US president, Donald Trump, to begin mass raids in large cities of the country, a threat recovered after last weekend the president warned that they would be starting “very soon”.
“Now we are in the middle of the bean and sweet potato season,” lamented the Mexican.
For a daily eight-hour day, for which she earns eight dollars an hour, the woman receives 1,600 dollars a month as compensation for a job that forces her to withstand high temperatures, in these months reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.5 centigrade), as well as torrential rains and insect bites.
“I have to work hard to earn what I earn, rain or shine here we walk, under the rain and the sun,” she said with resignation.
A few miles from where she works,we find largest detention center for undocumented minors in the country, with capacity for some 3,200 children between 13 and 17 years who have arrived alone or have been separated from their parents in the process of deportation and criticized by civil organizations and Democratic legislators.
After the first debate among candidates for the nomination of the Democratic Party ahead of the elections of 2020, held late last month in Miami, many candidates tried to enter the center of Homestead, which they described as “jail” and criticized that it was managed by private companies.
Precisely, being separated from her American children is one of the greatest fears of the Mexican, native of the state of Hidalgo, seeking to offer them a better education and life.
“My children are going to be abandoned and if I take them back to my country they will not have the same preparation,” says the woman, who dreams of eventually being able to attend the university graduation of her first-born.
The undocumented people who work in Homestead’s crops, in large numbers in Latin America, have redoubled their precautions before the expected presence of agents from ICE.
Alejandra, a 30-year-old Guatemalan who also works in Homestead’s crops, says that when she is in the field she goes to areas farther away from the road to have time to react and “be able to escape” in the event of a raid.
He assures that “now there is a lot of fear” and he does not stop thinking about tomorrow if he has to separate himself from his family.
The Guatemalan woman shares a chat group with other compañeras to exchange information and, above all, to alert about the presence of federal agents.
Some local organizations helping the undocumented, such as WeCount or the Florida Immigrant Coalition, are confident that the government will find a solution for immigrants.
“You have the right to remain silent according to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, you do not have to sign any document and you have to take the phone to record because that helps us verify if (the agents) are not abusing” , advises Guadalupe de la Cruz, one of the WeCount volunteers, based in Homestead.
While awaiting the development of the events, the Mexican, with skin very irritated due to pesticides used in planting, asks to be valued by “the great sacrifice they are making”.
The only thing they do, she says, “is work to survive.”