On Oct. 16, 2018, Ana Arellano got up early to make breakfast for the family. Her husband, Jose, had just left for work. Ana heard a ruckus coming from the front yard. She thought it was her husband returning because he forgot something. As she approached the front door, she saw uniformed officers moving through the yard, trying to enter her home. She abruptly stopped them, holding a strong grip on the doorknob. Her heart was pounding. She was afraid; she was, after all, an undocumented mother of four. She asked the officers why they were there. They showed Ana a picture of someone, who was not her son, and told her they needed to speak to Jose Arellano about this person. Ana, hoping to avoid trouble, grabbed her son so he could answer whatever questions they had. She hadn’t yet realized the officers were from ICE.
While the Trump administration policy of separating children from their parents captured headlines over the past two years, Arellano’s is a different story about family separation: What happens to families when the immigration system keeps someone locked up for mistakes they believed they had already paid the price for.
Jose Arellano is one of 158,000 people arrested by ICE in 2018 who had a criminal record. Charges for a DUI or drug possession were the most common among those detained. But more than 20,000 of the detained were immigrants with no criminal histories.
The Forgotten was published in February 2021 by Palabra, NAHJ. We are happy to report that one month after the publication of this story, Jose, was released from Adelanto Detention Center.
Words by Abraham Marquez
Images by Zaydee Sanchez