Robert Southey opened his poem The Curse of Kehama with a foreboding sentence. “Curses are like young chickens: they always come home to roost.” The meaning: Your actions have consequence which are unavoidable. This lesson is being learned at the expense of one hard-working migrant in southern Illinois. The citizens of West Frankfort and the surrounding county voted 70 percent in favor of Donald Trump. And now the Trump administration’s ICE raids have taken one of their most beloved denizens, torn a family apart, and shaken a community to the core.
Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco came to the USA in the late 1990s, illegally. He eventually settled in West Frankfort and found work at the local Tex-Mex joint. Over the years, he became an upstanding member of the small community. For the last ten years he’d been managing that Tex-Mex joint and started a family. He raised money for medical equipment. He gave away free food to fire fighters while they were fighting fires. He supported the local police force at every turn. He was a true local.