Adela Santos and her four children have lived in fear since her husband was deported in December.
That morning, her husband of 21 years was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents while waiting at the bus stop in front of the couple's home to go to work.
Santos — who moved from Oaxaca, Mexico to the United States with her husband 22 years ago — said with the absence of her partner, her oldest daughter has had to work in addition to going to school to help pay the bills.
"With my bills, I can't do it alone," Santos said in Spanish. "We're doing horribly. It's like [my husband] has died because I don't know if I'm ever going to see him again."
She said she is also in constant fear of being taken every time she takes out the trash or goes to the supermarket and has no additional family in the U.S.
“We have nothing, we have nothing,” Santos said.
She shared her story April 5 at Saint James Catholic Church in Solana Beach as part of a call for more volunteers for the San Diego Rapid Response Network (RRN). The organization was developed in December to "respond to dehumanizing immigration enforcement activities, including checkpoints, raids, arrests and harassment, occurring in San Diego County," according to its website.
Santos said the group has helped her financially, but it isn’t enough.
Norma Chavez Peterson, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties (ACLU), said the network’s vision is to protect people all over the county. Members of the ACLU, San Diego Organizing Project and North County Immigration Task Force, work together as the RRN.
People can call RRN's 24-hour hotline at 619-536-0823 to report a situation or ask for help from a volunteer dispatcher. The dispatcher then sends a volunteer responder, who verifies the situation. If RRN finds a situation to be an actual report or incident, they can provide the family with financial help or legal assistance.
Since its formation, RRN has received more than 700 calls. Only about 25 have been actual reports or incidents, according to the organization. Most of the verified calls have been for legal resources.
RRN has a network of 80 volunteer dispatchers and responders throughout San Diego County and 25 in North County, but is looking for additional help from people who speak both Spanish and English.
Lola Enriquez, a volunteer dispatcher, said the experience has been rewarding for her because she likes knowing she is “helping those that can’t help themselves.”
"My faith challenged me to speak out and stand up for someone who's suffering," she said. "It's giving a little bit of myself for the well-being of so many people in need."
For more information and to volunteer, visit www.rapidresponsesd.org