Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Immigration arrests leave 1 MP child parentless

May 17, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


At 15 years old, Mt. Pleasant Community High School student Walfred Uriza considers himself orphaned by the immigration arrest that ended with his father locked up in the Linn County Jail, potentially awaiting deportation.

His father, Elmer Uriza, is one of the 32 men who were arrested at MPC Enterprises in Mt. Pleasant Wednesday, May 9 by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) following the execution of a search warrant with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations.

That day, Walfred was picked up from school by a family friend who informed him of his father’s fate and told him he was now alone.

As Walfred told his story Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church following an Iowa WINS meeting, Eneida Carrillo translated, stopping to explain that right now Walfred doesn’t want to think about what would happen if his dad is deported.

“The lawyer told him today he will probably be able to do nothing for his dad,” Carrillo said. “I told him he needs to keep believing. Miracles can happen every day.”

Elmer decided to move him and his son to the U.S. after gangs in Guatemala wanted to use Walfred as a drug mule. Although Elmer told the gangs that they couldn’t use his son and went to the local police in Guatemala, the police said there was nothing they could do.

So Elmer relented, allowing the gangs to use Walfred to move drugs once, thinking after he did so they would leave the Uriza family alone. However, Walfred was quickly contacted again. With threats to his son’s life, Elmer knew he had no other choice for his son but to move them both to the U.S.

“With all the gangs and drugs and cartels in our country, the future is very black,” explained Carrillo, who is also from Guatemala and whose

Today, Walfred awaits his hearing in August for his request for asylum, something his father pursued before his arrest fearing just that. Unfortunately, because of the expense of applying for asylum, the family of two could only afford to go through the process one at a time.

As Walfred waits to hear what will happen with his father, he feels guilty about the decision for him to seek asylum first. But Carrillo reminded him that’s the reason Elmer chose to seek asylum for Walfred. He knew an immigration arrest like the one at MPC Enterprises could happen at any time and was worried for his son’s safety.

However, Walfred believes that if his father is deported back to Guatemala, the gangs will find him and he will die.

Elmer’s lawyer told Walfred Wednesday, May 16 that his father’s case is very complicated and he will likely be deported.

Walfred and Carrillo hope that by telling Walfred’s story, others will feel a little bit of the pain they are suffering and think of a child with a father in jail.

“We hold this pain in our community now,” Carrillo explained, saying that while she is thankful for the outpouring of support from the community, families are still fearful.

Walfred and his father lived by themselves in Mt. Pleasant. Walfred is now bouncing between families in the community as they await word about Elmer. Walfred’s mother remains in Guatemala.

Elmer has not been offered bail.

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