Sylvia Guerrero was shocked Thursday to get a call informing her that immigration authorities had taken her husband and son from an Elk Grove Village factory to an unknown location.
Moises Torres, 64, and Omar Torres, 31, were among 34 illegal immigrants rounded up in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid at Chicago Pallet Service Inc.
Not knowing whom to turn to for help, Guerrero called friends, attorneys and eventually Rev. Jose Landaverde of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission in Chicago.
Church officials and members organized a rally Friday morning before the Chicago Loop headquarters of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to get the Torres family and others captured in the raid released on bond.
"They were hard workers," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "They weren't doing anything illegal."
Guerrero said her husband and son have been working at the Elk Grove Village factory for 16 years and 12 years, respectively. She acknowledged that the family left their Mexican hometown of San Luis Potosi and entered the United States illegally 16 years ago. She declined to comment on her own immigration status.
"I feel heartbroken but I have to be strong," Guerrero said through the interpreter. "I want to fight for my husband and my son."
A person who answered the phone at the factory said no one was available to comment. ICE didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
Magali Renteria, Guerrero's family friend, participated in the rally to show her support.
"I've known them for a very long time, almost 10 years," she said. "They are hardworking people. They have never gotten into trouble. They have a clean record. I'm hoping that there is something we can do. That's why we are here today."
A couple of dozen supporters chanted slogans calling for a stop to immigration raids, deportations and the forced separation of families.
Omar Torres' 5-year-old daughter, Ixtel Torres, wants to be reunited with her father, Landaverde said.
"We are here to demand Homeland Security to release these families on ICE bonds," he said.
Landaverde said authorities claim the workers were seized as a result of an investigation.
"It was a raid," he said. "A few days after the election, this is how they are responding to the Latino community. We are the ones who got (President) Obama elected."
The raid also surprised the president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, but for a different reason.
"We would love to see a lot more raids," William Gheen said.
"The Obama administration has stopped enforcing raids. Barack Obama is firmly on the side of the illegal immigrants, not the American citizens on these issues," he said, adding that lack of enforcement is dismaying to U.S. workers and undermines existing immigration law and borders.
Jorge Mujica with Arise Chicago said at the rally that a quarter of a million workers were arrested and deported last year.
"Each one of them is owed wages," he said, explaining companies withhold between $80 million and $150 million yearly wages from people who are deported. "These are people who have not committed any crime. They earned their wages and they deserve to collect their wages."
While there has been a lot of talk about immigration reform since the re-election of President Obama, "there can't be any kind of serious immigration reform talk, if there are raids in the workplace," Mujica said.
Immigrant advocates at the rally urged authorities to cease raids and deportations and let the political process on immigration reform play out.