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Sixth-grader just wants migrant father home

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Sixth-grader just wants migrant father home
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Michelle stands in prayer garden at St. Anne Catholic Church, Carthage
Ezra Wall

Immigration lawyers in Mississippi are volunteering their time to offer advice to families caught up in a series of raids by federal officials last week. MPB's Ezra Wall spoke to one girl whose father is still in custody.

Michelle is still emotional about the way she found out her father had been arrested by federal agents last week. The Leake Central sixth-grader was on the bus when she got the news, ready to head home after her first day back to school. She said her family misses her father emotionally and financially.

"He always give us food, water, and he always buy us clothes every year for school," says Michelle. "And Friday (payday) he would have gave us food and water, but really we don't have nothing right now."

Michelle's mother is at the free legal clinic being held at St. Anne Catholic Church in Carthage. They're trying to help Hector Garcia, Michelle's father. Immigration attorneys are volunteering to help families affected by recent raids.

Camila Herrera is the services director for the Tennessee Immigrants and Refugee Rights Coalition. Events in her state have given her experience coordinating legal clinics like the one in Carthage. She has some advice for migrant families in Mississippi.

"Everyone, regardless of their immigration status, still has constitutional rights," says Herrera. "It's important for them to know that they have the right to remain silent, not to give out information, that they have the right to see an attorney."

About half of the nearly 700 people arrested in Mississippi last week have been released, but have pending court dates. The others may face even more complicated legal issues.

Legal issues aside, young Michelle just wants her dad back.

"I would like him to know that I always will love him," says Michelle, "and I really want him to stay over here."