Immigration crackdown sparks fear in Mid-South families

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Immigration raids have sparked panic across the country, as the Trump administration cracks down on people living illegally in the U.S.

Some Mid-South organizations are warning immigrants here illegally to make plans for their children in case they’re picked up by federal agents.

One Memphis woman – who we'll refer to as Andrea Rodriguez because she doesn't want to reveal her identity – fears her husband could be next.

"How do I explain to my daughter that my husband might not make it home?" she said. "How do I tell her that maybe tomorrow her grandparents won’t be there?"

Rodriguez is a U.S. citizen, but her husband and in-laws are just a few of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country left wondering if they’ll be deported.

"I’m scared every day he leaves out the door," she said. "I really don’t know if he’ll make it back."

Her husband and his parents came to America from Mexico illegally 15 years ago, and she says they’ve been working to gain citizenship, but that can take years.

"Now I have to worry about possibly losing my husband and preparing for that," she said.

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines calling for stricter enforcement of immigration laws.

And President Trump has pledged to deport as many as three million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

"We're getting really bad dudes out of this country," he said during a meeting with manufacturing CEOs at the White House Feb. 23.

And in a press briefing in Mexico City that same day, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says reports of mass deportations are false.

"Let me very, very clear. There will be no, repeat, no mass deportation," he said.

But recent images of homes being raided, a Phoenix, Arizona mother taken away from her family and an apparent ICE raid at an Austin, Texas fast food restaurant are only adding to the nationwide panic.

"I’ve spent days crying, just because I don’t know what to do," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez admits something needs to change.

"The immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed," she said. "But there are people who’ve made their lives here and have done right by the law and contribute to society."

She says her hope is that the Trump administration will provide a path for undocumented immigrants whose only crime has been coming to America illegally for a chance at a better life.

"These are people in the communities," Rodriguez said. "They’re families, they’re children that are going to have missing family members."

Rodriguez said dozens of Mid-South immigrants were warned at a meeting Saturday – hosted by Latino Memphis and the Community Legal Center – not to answer their doors for police officers and to appoint a trusted loved one as a power of attorney to care for their children in case they’re targeted in a raid.