Patrick Oppmann
April 17, 2009

After 11 years of living illegally in the United States, it was not until Gerardo Arreola Gonzalez was nearly deported that he finally received permission to work here.

Arreola was one of 28 illegal immigrant workers arrested in February after agents from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement raided a car engine repair business.

[efoods]According to the immigrants, a small army of federal agents surrounded Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham Washington, and began searching for workers who could not show they had authorization to work in the United States.

“My blood ran cold,” Arreola said in Spanish. “We went to the back door, but they were waiting for us. There was a bus already there, and they put us on it.”

As he was being taken to an immigration detention center, Arreola said he thought of his wife and the five children they have had while living here and who are U.S. citizens by birth. He expected to be deported back to Mexico, Arreola said, and he was doubtful about when he would see his family again.

“I would have been there and they would have been here,” he said. “I would have had to come back. I couldn’t take them there. My children don’t know anything about Mexico. They go to school here.”

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