CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Textbook open, Mariela studies environmental science while her three younger sisters watch TV before bed.
In a few minutes, she will help them brush their teeth and say their bedtime prayers. But the 18-year-old is not babysitting. Mariela is the primary caregiver for her sisters ages 2, 4 and 7 now that their mother is gone––arrested in an immigration raid at her workplace.
"She was not supposed to be at work on that morning," Mariela says. "My stepfather told her not to go … but she wanted to make some overtime to send more money to (family in) Guatemala."
U.S. immigration officers arrested Mariela’s mother on April 16 at the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing plant in Chattanooga during a crackdown on an alleged scam to provide fake IDs for illegal immigrant workers. Poultry plants in four other states were also raided.