They knew that they would stay inside and had to stock up on supplies.
"I had the impression that day that it was a hurricane that was coming," CNN told the undocumented immigrant from Nicaragua.
And undocumented immigrants are getting ready.
They call lines of assistance, fearing to go outside and not knowing where to turn. Some stay at home after work. Others post signs near the doors of their home to tell them what to do if ICE agents come along.
She woke up last night screaming
While the disturbing mixture of panic and preparation a few weeks ago was like a hurricane, there was a noticeable difference for the housekeeper in Miami. The shop in his neighborhood seemed strangely empty. Already, she said, people were afraid to go out.
She went home with a plan.
"I said 'OK, you know what, we're going to keep the windows shut, the blinds down, I do not want any noise, I want everyone to stay calm and try to extinguish the lights in the living room so, if they come, they do not know we're at home, she said. "I know my rights. I know I do not have to open the door. I know a lot, but even with that, it's really scary. "
The woman told her story to CNN but asked to be identified only by a pseudonym, Elena, for fear of being retaliated. She said she came to the United States more than twenty years ago with a visa that she had passed in order to apply for asylum.
Elena lost her case but stayed in the United States, where she claims to have built her life and developed her family. She is terrified of being separated from them.
"It's a horrible feeling," she said Thursday. "These last two days, I woke up in the middle of the night." My husband said: "What happened to you last night?" "You started screaming in your dream."
Frightened farm workers stay at home
Elfido García sits under the hot sun on Thursday and tends to grow agave plants in Homestead, Florida. It's been weeks since he's working with colleagues who, he says, are too scared to leave their homes after hearing about the possibility of raids on TV.
The Guatemalan migrant worker stated that he only left his home to walk to work, knowing that he was in danger of being arrested by the authorities.
"Yes, I take the risk," he says, "but just to fight for my family."
As the threat of immigration raids looms in southern Florida, fields once filled with workers seem empty. Weeds grow where crops once grew. And the number of "help wanted" panels displayed indicating job offers is increasing.
A growing number of workers are afraid to leave their homes, leaving homeowners looking for workers to harvest.
The owner of the farm, Gustavo Serna, told CNN in Español that the crops had been lost.
"Due to the labor shortage, many people lose up to 50% of their crops," he said.
Across the country, in Worthington, Minnesota, an undocumented farm worker who spoke to CNN said the community there was also terrified. He said that he planned to stay the whole weekend until he was certain that the ICE agents were not on the street.
"I do not want to leave my family devastated," he said, "so we'll just stay inside."
Questions and frantic calls
The lawyers point out that eviction fears are well known to immigrant communities across the country. And this is not the first time that raids are threatened or reported before they happen.
But this time, many immigrant rights advocates say that the concerns of immigrants are more acute.
"There is a lot of panic and a lot of fear, even though we know that these raids take place every year … Something quite different this time around," said Nayim Islam, a rights organizer. immigrants for Desis Rising Up & Moving, a lobby group working with South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities in New York.
Many groups have set up hotlines for community members to report raids and ask for help.
"We received a call from a mother who said that her little girl was not feeling well and that she was afraid to go to the doctor." She was trying to find a way to get her in. 39 out, "said Melissa Taveras, spokeswoman for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
"We continue to receive calls and messages from people who say:" We are afraid, what should we do? ", Said Taveras. "I have seen this kind of messages and calls more than usual, which really worries me because they are people who are preparing in fear."
Across the country, advocacy groups hold "Know Your Rights" trainings and circulate leaflets and social messages with instructions on what to do if ICE agents are to show up at their door. .
The word seems to be over, said Abel Nuñez, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Washington.
"Many people have heard this message," he said. "I think the question is, if it happens to them, will they apply it? It's one thing for me to give you a card or a paper with your rights." Is something else at five o'clock in the morning, when you hear A loud knock on your door and someone shouts: "Police! Are you going to let them in? It's a very different environment."
"At this point, just repeat, remind them what they have, for it to be a muscle memory."
"It's not a life"
Now that another ICE operation seems imminent, Elena says she does not want to risk staying home to find out what would happen if federal agents come to her door.
"This week, we plan to move for a week until it stops, but next month we will leave the apartment," she said. "I've been in this apartment for five years now, so I do not think it's secure."
Fear, she says, has become a constant. She is so exhausted that she sometimes wants to be able to return to Nicaragua.
But she says recent troubles have made her afraid of returning to the country she left decades ago.
"Sometimes I feel like that, I mean …" I give up, I'm going home. " Because it's not a life … I drive, I do not have a driver's license.
"My daughter sometimes says:" Mom, I'm afraid you're not coming home, "Elena said. "I do not know if I will have the opportunity to feel that I have a free life, that I live in peace."
Journalist Ana Maria Mejia and CNN's Rosa Flores, Jason Morris and Leonel Mendez contributed to this report.