Immigrants touched by Mexico quake, try to help from afar

LAS VEGAS (AP) — When Luis Ramirez finally reached his mother after the powerful Mexico earthquake, he learned her home was so badly damaged that it had to be demolished.

He considered getting on a plane from New York to help her find a new home, but it was too risky now that the program that has been shielding him from deportation is being phased out. He tried to send money, but the usual courier that he uses shut down because of the damage from the 7.1-magnitude quake in his home state of Morelos.

“The situation is eating me alive because you can’t do anything,” he said about sending help to his mother from New York City.

The earthquake that killed nearly 300 people and destroyed dozens of buildings in Mexico set off a frantic response in communities around the U.S. as people desperately try to connect with their loved ones, figure out ways to send emergency help, money and goods as well as raise funds for smaller towns around the capital they say are receiving less help from the government. Those in the country illegally wish they could travel to help their loved ones cope with the aftermath but are afraid they wouldn’t be able to return.

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“We saw people desperately trying to connect with their families. Lines were down. They couldn’t think of other ways to find their relatives,” said Ana Flores, who heads an office for the Mexican state of Puebla in Passaic, New Jersey. “We have gone through all of the feelings from anxiety, to anguish and now trying to find all the support we can.”

Traditionally a month of parties for Mexicans who celebrate the country’s independence from Spain, September has dealt one blow after another. It started with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, which has the third-largest population of Mexicans in the U.S. Then on Sept. 5, President Donald Trump announced his decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shielded from deportation nearly 800,000 immigrants — the great majority from Mexico — brought to the U.S. as children. Another earthquake struck in Mexico’s southern coast on Sept. 7, killing at least 90 people.

Tuesday’s earthquake has Mexicans in the U.S. glued to their televisions and their phones trying to get specific news from their local towns to help their families.

Monica Dominguez, who lives in Huntington Beach, California, had been calling…

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