Adrian Balderas Plata, Raul Ortiz Garnica and Jeovany Argueta Garcia met in the parking lot of the San Miguel Market in Greensboro on their way to work on Tuesday morning. According to the American Friends Service Committee of the Carolinas, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who were searching for a different target, intercepted the three men and questioned them.
Hours later, Garnica’s wife Guadalupe, who is due to give birth to their second child next week, got a call from her husband. He was being held at the Forsyth Detention Center.
On Thursday afternoon, around 70 supporters — including as many as 20 children under the age of 10 — gathered outside the market where the detainment took place. The supporters came together to call attention to the incident and demand action to prevent the families of these men and the families of future detainees from being left alone to bear the cost and the tragedy of losing their members.
Guadalupe — a former student at Southern Guilford High School — stood holding their first child.
As she answered reporters’ questions in English, an interpreter stood beside her translating her responses into Spanish. With tears in her eyes, Guadalupe said that her husband was just getting ready to take a few days off to take care of her ahead of the imminent birth of their child.
“Now I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” she said.
Guadalupe told reporters that she wanted people to know that ICE agents are separating and destroying families.
As Guadalupe spoke, a woman nearby fainted, falling backwards onto the pavement. Members of the crowd quickly moved to take her hands and arms, cushion her head and fan her, while others ran into the market to get water. They brought out bottles not just for her but for everyone in the crowd.
As an ambulance was called, the woman remained on the ground, crying, with those around her tending to her.
An ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital.
The woman’s name is Susana, the wife of Adrian Balderas Plata, one of the men detained.
As the ambulance pulled away, Juan Miranda, an activist and supporter of the detained men, looked on.
“What [ICE agents] are doing is actually killing people,” he said quietly.
Laura Garduño, a volunteer for the American Friends Service Committee, recollected Guadalupe’s meeting with her husband in the Forsyth Detention Center.
“During the meeting that [Guadalupe] had with her husband… he was taken,” Garduño said. “And now [the three men] are going to be taken to a different detention center because the quicker that they can move them, the less accessible they can be for their families, the less intervention they can seek.”
After Susana’s ambulance left, organizers of the gathering decided to end the meeting with a prayer. It was given in English and Spanish:
“Be with these men so wrongfully taken,” the speaker said to the crowd. “Keep their spirits strong. Keep them safe, and open the hearts of everyone in this community… that we will fight together and know justice together.”