Community holds vigil to support families after Mt. Pleasant ICE - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Community holds vigil to support families after Mt. Pleasant ICE arrests

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MT. PLEASANT (KWWL) -

Some members of an eastern Iowa community are coming together, one day after 32 men were arrested for immigration violations in Mt. Pleasant.

On Thursday, outside of the Henry County Courthouse, a large group gathered for a vigil of solidarity for the families of the men arrested from Midwest Precast Concrete.

"I just feel that if we rally together here in Mt. Pleasant that we can get a lot accomplished," Sharon Barton said.

Barton and others stood along the streets with signs. Hers wrote, "immigrants rights are human rights." Barton works as a volunteer English tutor at Southeastern Community College for adults who don't speak English as their first language.

"People that everybody says are illegals are my brothers and sisters in the Lord and they're humans, too. And, I believe, as great as the country is, we live in the best country in the world and instead of kicking these people down, kicking them out, we need to help them on their way to citizenship," she said.

For close to an hour, people gathered around the town's Statue of Liberty monument where they spoke of support for the families and men.

"Their families are scared. The breadwinner is gone and they don't know what they're going to do," Barton said.

Church leaders from multiple parishes and LULAC representatives were among those that spoke during the vigil.

One woman, Carolyn Avila, spoke and said her family and friends were among the men arrested.

"I worry for them so much," Avila said. 

Avila said she's now taking care of a teenage boy after his father was arrested. She said he was left with no family.

"He's alone here," she said. "I'm talking to him, he's crying about his dad and I tell him don't worry, I'm here. I'm not your mom, I'm not your sister, but I'm here."

From the display of signs and the speeches, many that attended hope to help reconnect the families and get legal representation for the men.

"We need some help. We need to stop the deportations. We need to give some papers for them because we're coming to work hard. We don't come to do criminal stuff," Avila said.

First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant said they are collecting donations to help the families both financially and with items such as food and diapers.

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