United Against Separation of Families forms in Savannah following immigration arrests

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We are learning more about some potentially unintended consequences of the Trump administration's immigration policy. Of the hundreds targeted nationwide by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the past week, some are the sole breadwinners for their households.

Now the families left behind are trying to fend for themselves, and could soon be relying on federal and local aid. For many, it's the first time they've needed assistance.

Working to help immigrant families left behind here in Savannah is a newly-formed group of concerned volunteers who have come together to form United Against Separation of Families. 
The founding member said she encountered a woman whose husband and brothers were arrested by ICE last week, leaving the woman and her four children in a dire financial situation.

"The husband, the wife, the brothers, the uncles, all made enough money to pay all of their bills. To pay for their groceries, to go to the doctor and pay in cash for medical care," said Mariela Orellana-Nemanic.

While the mother in that family doesn't qualify for federal or local aid, Orellana-Nemanic says the U.S. born children do, and will likely have to file for Medicaid and other assistance.

"The family that used to be financially independent, and who never qualified for food stamps or Medicaid before because they made too much money, are now poverty stricken," said Orellana-Nemanic.

Immigration lawyers are also meeting locally with those concerned about their future in the U.S. and are encouraging families to form emergency plans.

Attorney Joe Berrigan said, "They need to prepare accordingly. Prepare their documents, have a list of phone numbers of family members here, family members in Mexico or wherever that family might be from. And have in mind what they are going to do."

In the meantime, those with United Against Separation of Families are looking for volunteers and resources for families in some cases now too afraid to even leave their homes. Contact 912.220.4238 for more information.

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