CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — Over the last few weeks, immigrant communities across central North Carolina area have expressed concerns about federal authorities ramping up their deportation efforts.
Dozens held a vigil Saturday night in Cary to raise awareness and help those now detained.
Family, friends, advocates and others gathered at White Plains United Methodist Church to express their concern about two Wake County teens.
The first teen, Edwin Alvarez-Gálvez of Raleigh, vigil organizers say, was taken during an ICE raid three weeks ago. He’s currently detained in Georgia.
Another teen, Santos Padilla-Guzman of Cary, was picked up by ICE just two days ago, vigil organizers say. The teens are among at least four others who have been detained in North Carolina in recent weeks.
“My brother is not a criminal. I am asking for justice, because my brother has dreams of continuing his studies. Of study, working and just progressing here,” said Myrna Padilla-Guzman, a sister of one of the teens said Saturday night at the vigil.
Myrna made an emotional pleas for her brother to be freed.
“They will kill him, his life is at risk,” she said.
Myrna says her brother has been in Raleigh since June 2015 when he fled El Salvador after a gang threatened his life.
“The families, as you can imagine, are distraught. They’re very upset. Many of them are, however, very religious and so they’re holding on strongly to their faith right now,” said vigil organizer Elisa Benitez.
The group organizing the vigil, which about 40 people attended, said both teens could be killed if they have to return to Central America.
“We hope that the people who watch this (and) the people who attend this will that all of them will acknowledge that these are children that who are fleeing from extreme violence and these are youths that need to remain in the us with their families. Because they’re suffering in detention and if they’re deported they might become the statistic yet again in Central America of another person being killed,” Benitez said.
Organizers saying these teens could be deported at any minute. The group hopes that events like the vigil can spread the work and stop that from happening.
“We are noticing a really disturbing trend in that immigration and customs enforcement are getting more aggressive in the way they’re arresting some of these youths. And we are holding this vigil in the hopes that it’ll get attention,” Benitez said.
Organizers are urging those who attended the vigil to call ICE at 202-225-1784 or sign an online petition.