On Tuesday, Nicholas Paiz Domingo was arrested in a federal raid at the House of Raeford Farms chicken processing plant.
By nightfall, he was sent home because he needed medicine for his tuberculosis. He wore an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.
On Wednesday, he tried to go back to work but was turned away.
“I want to make a few more pennies for my family,” said Paiz, 35.
Paiz and 329 other workers, including 123 women, were arrested on Tuesday at the plant known locally as Columbia Farms. Authorities said workers came from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Hungary. Most of those who were not released are being held in detention centers in Georgia.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials released 87 detainees for humanitarian reasons, including child care and medical problems. They will be required to appear before a federal judge to determine if they will be deported.
Paiz's court date is Nov. 19. He lives with five other Guatemalans who work at the plant, all from Nenton, Guatemala. Four of them were arrested, but Ricardo, another roommate, was late to work. Ricardo said he saw immigration agents and left. He skipped work Wednesday, but said he plans to report to work today. He said he needs the money.
Paiz said his salary supports his wife, six children and his parents. He has been building a house for his family in Guatemala.
Wednesday afternoon, 11 detainees appeared before U.S. Magistrate William Catoe in Greenville to face charges including immigration identification fraud, aggravated identity theft and re-entering the U.S. after previously being deported.
The detainees answered questions through an interpreter and were assigned defense attorneys. All will be held because of their immigration status.
Three of those in court – Pedro J. Gomes, Roberto P. Dominguez and Abelardo Dominguez – were charged with using fraudulent immigration documents and aggravated identity theft. A fourth, John Jairo Johnson-Amaya, has been charged with using fraudulent documents.
The remaining seven who appeared in court are charged with re-entering the country after previously being deported – Roberto Maradiaga-Gonzalez, Miguel Domingo-Paiz, Ernesto Ignacio-Felipe, Marco Antonio Gomez-Lopez, Mateo Francisco-Sebastian, Juana Miguel-Juan and Adilia Morales-Ruiz.
A day after the raid, families waited to hear from loved ones at detention centers. Businesses and streets were vacant in a heavily Latino neighborhood near the plant because those not rounded up stayed home, afraid agents would return.
Paiz worries about how his family is going to fend without the money he sends home.
“I didn't come here to rob anyone,” he said. “We came here to work. Our country is very poor. My family is going to die of hunger.”
Paiz said he would consider leaving the country immediately, but he can't because he doesn't know how to remove the electronic ankle bracelet that allows authorities to track him. He'll try to find an attorney to help him consider his options.
“If I could work, I'd stay,” he said.