Volunteering with the Peninsula County Immigrant Support group (PCIS) for the past two years, I thought I had seen and heard the most heartbreaking stories that are out there in the misery that ICE routinely creates when they pick up a Hispanic family member.

This past week I learned a family of five is experiencing a crisis that would break most families. Dad was picked up by ICE and now faces deportation this spring. His crime? Working without a green card. His wife has a green card but was just laid off from her job. She speaks English so hopes she can find another soon. They have three children under 8. One of them is severely asthmatic and that condition is a factor in their present emergency.

Like nearly all the Hispanic families I have met, this family lived in one of our Peninsula trailer slums. (I have read books, seen movies that depict New York’s slums, Chicago’s notorious South Side, Los Angeles’ worst housing but I never imagined we on the Peninsula have our own version of the big city ghettos.) The couple paid $700/month for a beat-up trailer that had holes in the roof large enough to allow rats to enter. The rodents’ presence not only frightened the children but exacerbated their child’s asthma flare ups. When they begged the landlord to fix the problem what kind of response do you think they received? How about an eviction notice that set their departure date for last weekend?

We learned of their situation last Thursday at the community event that offered all sorts of help for low income residents. However at their table, the only assistance the local governmental housing agency could give was an appointment sometime this week! We have no emergency housing on the Peninsula available for Hispanics, for Caucasians — for anyone. PCIS has paid for a four-night stay in a local motel and we have contacted individuals, churches, real estate agencies — anyone we could think of with no success yet.

Peninsula’s rental situation is difficult as many of us have learned. It is frustrating to see all the empty houses around us and wonder if their owners might help just for a short time. This couple has some savings and is hoping to stay in the Ocean Park School area where their 8-year-old is enrolled.

If you can help in any way please contact us at: www.PCISupport.org We know this is a caring community and so we have hope that someone will reach out.

SANDY NIELSON

Pacific County Immigrant Support

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