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The Aftermath Of An Immigration Raid In 'Separated'


William D. Lopez's book "Separated" examines the ripples that pulse away from a single event and are felt for years - really four whole lives. On a Thursday in November of 2013, Guadalupe Morales, her sister-in-law and their four young children were in their small apartment above an auto body shop in Washtenaw County, Mich., when a SWAT team, bearing assault rifles, stormed the room. It was a coordinated raid between the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents - ICE - and local police. They threw tear gas. They knocked down doors and made children scream.

William D. Lopez is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. His book is "Separated: Family And Community In The Aftermath Of An Immigration Raid." He joins us from the studios of Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. Professor, thank you for being with us.

WILLIAM D LOPEZ: Thank you so much for having me.

SIMON: We should note that this raid was routine business and, to be fair, under the previous administration - not Donald Trump.

LOPEZ: That is correct. That is under the previous administration. For our area, this was probably a particularly big raid, right? Altogether we see perhaps a dozen men were arrested and perhaps half a dozen were ultimately deported. So it was a big event that lasted also all day long. So it really sent some shock waves. And as you mentioned, this definitely occurred during the Obama administration. But what we do see during the Trump administration is something we didn't see during Obama's tenure and that's a return to these large-scale work raids. So this is often about creating this climate of fear and a fear of the unknown.

SIMON: Help us understand the repercussions as you write about them to, obviously, Guadalupe Morales and her family but also people around her and Washtenaw County, for that matter.

LOPEZ: Kind of the easiest way to wrap her head around it is to think about what happened to Guadalupe's life after her brother in this case - Santiago - was removed. Santiago was the breadwinner for the family. So immediately she had to begin working to generate income for her family, for her children, right? So from this, from this removal of a provider, of a breadwinner (unintelligible) and many, many other circumstances - hunger, poverty, possible homelessness.

And she was homeless after the raid. There was an organization who rented a hotel for her to stay in after the raid. And then we see just the emotional and psychological repercussions not only of your husband or your brother or your cousin or your uncle being deported but often of your father being deported, right? So we see children who - the men in their lives are removed and the - not only the providers but also their emotional support.

But then on the community level, what we also see is folks who begin to distrust social service organizations, right? Then there's this tension of like, can I trust the police if I'm this particular race or if I'm this particular immigration status? And moreover, there's a question of, can I trust other government organizations? Can I trust even local clinics with my immigration status information?

SIMON: You wound up being able to trace the ripple effects of this 2013 raid to about 20 - a little over over 20 people, didn't you?

LOPEZ: So that's correct. I spoke with many of the individuals who were directly impacted by the raid. That means they were arrested in the morning. Or they were in the building when it was raided. And then I spoke with their family members. And then I spoke with representatives from social service organizations who support them. It's a good point that after immigration enforcement events like this, sometimes it's hard to say where folks end up and how many people are deported and how many people are removed. It has this trauma and then this aura of mystery, right? So folks scatter. Folks don't want to be around the places where they think ICE and police are going to arrest more people.

SIMON: Help us know what you can about where Guadalupe and her family members are today.

LOPEZ: You know, like many folks after the deportation of somebody they know and somebody they depend on, life kind of goes up in the air for a while, right? But then eventually, you know, as we often see, there comes the time where either folks go back to work. Or they decide to go back to Mexico.

That's what Fernanda decided so - Fernanda is Santiago's wife. After he was deported, she just didn't have the income to take care of her two young kids. And she was extremely traumatized by the event. She would talk about how she had nightmares and couldn't sleep and felt like she couldn't be a good mother anymore.

And Guadalupe, as well as many others in the book, moved. And that's one of the main points I took away from this work is that the raid happens. Arrests happen. Deportation happens on one day during the year, right? But it's the other 364 days - are fundamentally shaped by that one event. We fear the traumatic event. And we fear the removal. And she lives every day, you know, with that possibility of what could happen.

SIMON: William D. Lopez, his book - "Separated." Thank you so much for being with us.

LOPEZ: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.