A gut-wrenching plea from a sobbing Mississippi girl to the U.S. government to “not leave the children with cryingness” is rippling through the media as the face of the suffering of a mammoth bust of migrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
“Government, please [use] your heart. Let my parents be free and everybody else. Please don’t leave the children with cryingness,” sobs 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Grigorio in a news video. “I need my dad and mami. My dad ... is not a criminal.”
Magdalena was one of scores of children apparently left abandoned after ICE raided sevenfood processing plants Wednesday in different towns in central Mississippi in the largest single arrest of immigrants in a more than a decade. Agents rounded up 680 men and women. But more than 300 reportedly were released Thursday morning with notices to appear before immigration judges.
The operation occurred just hours before President Donald Trump traveled to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, in the wake of mass shootings in both cities. The attack on an El Paso Walmart has been linked to a vicious anti-immigrant manifesto authorities believe was written by the suspected gunman.
Children milled outside of schools Wednesday with no one to pick them up and nowhere to go. Teachers, relatives and other volunteers turned up to take them in or to community centers. Jordan Barnes, a private gym owner in the town of Forest, was offering the space for the children and arranging donated food and mattresses for the children along with help from other community leaders. “I understand the law and how everything works ... but everybody needs to hold the kids first and foremost in their minds,” Barnes told Channel 12 WJTV (see the video below).
About 200 children in the area didn’t show up for school the following day, BuzzFeed reported. One district was missing a fourth of its students. Some likely couldn’t get to school, while others may have been too frightened to attend. It’s also possible children simply went missing with no one to look out for them.
Gabriela Rosales, a six-year resident of Morton, where some of the raids took place, told The Associated Press that she understands that “there’s a process and a law.” But what ICE did was “devastating,” she added. “It was very devastating to see all those kids crying, [possibly] having seen their parents for the last time.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.