As he gestured to the numerous soccer trophies adorning a side table in the dining room, Gregoria Huestipa apologized for the state of disorganization in his home.
“I’m sorry for the mess,” he said as he arranged things. “I only just got back a couple weeks ago, and I was gone for so long.”
Huestipa, 35, wasn’t on vacation or a business trip. He was jailed for a month in Newark after getting arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement outside his workplace in Margate for being an undocumented immigrant.
The Pleasantville father of two, born in Mexico, has spent the majority of his life building friendships, community and work in South Jersey, yet he is among the more than 41,000 people in the United States who were arrested earlier this year as a result of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration.
For him, it means possibly being separated by thousands of miles from his two children, both born in South Jersey, and his community. For the state as a whole, experts say targeting undocumented immigrants can have detrimental effects on the economy, labor force and culture.
“I love the United States with all my heart,” Huestipa tells The Press of Atlantic City (http://bit.ly/2xDCaDb), sitting at his dining room table wearing a New York Mets hat while his 4-year-old son colored in the next room. “I don’t want to leave. I’ve been here since I was 9 and didn’t even think how I was different than anyone else until I was 18 or 19.”