This morning there are reports of increased arrests of undocumented immigrants by ICE – the Immigration and Customs Enforcement police in several major American cities.
Immigrant rights advocates reported an uptick in Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests ― including the detention of people who were considered low priority for removal until Trump signed an order last month making nearly every undocumented immigrant an important target for deportation.
ICE officials initially said that this week’s actions were “routine” and nothing outside the ordinary. But in a conference call with reporters Friday evening, an ICE official appeared to contradict that statement, saying that the agencies targeted several cities in an “enforcement surge.”
“The rash of recent reports about purported ICE checkpoints and random sweeps are false, dangerous, and irresponsible,” the agency wrote in a statement about detentions in the Los Angeles area. “These reports create panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Individuals who falsely report such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support. “
I would not be surprised at all if an ICE raid into a neighborhood is soon met by organized gun fire if these sweeps continue.
Meanwhile others in the Central Valley of California bet their farms on the election of Donald J. Trump. His message of reducing regulations and taxes appealed to this Republican stronghold, one of Mr. Trump’s strongest bases of support in the state.
As for his promises about cracking down on illegal immigrants, many assumed Mr. Trump’s pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country’s immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.
The ICE sweeps yesterday are probably not making them feel any better.
Trump’s immigration policies could transform California’s Central Valley, a stretch of lowlands that extends from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Approximately 70 percent of all farmworkers here are living in the United States illegally, according to researchers at University of California, Davis. The impact could reverberate throughout the valley’s precarious economy, where agriculture is by far the largest industry. With 6.5 million people living in the valley, the fields in this state bring in $35 billion a year and provide more of the nation’s food than any other state.
“Many here feel vindicated by the election, and signs declaring “Vote to make America great again,” still dot the highways. But in conversations with nearly a dozen farmers, most of whom voted for Mr. Trump, each acknowledged that they relied on workers who provided false documents. And if the administration were to weed out illegal workers, farmers say their businesses would be crippled. Even Republican lawmakers from the region have supported plans that would give farmworkers a path to citizenship.”
“If you only have legal labor, certain parts of this industry and this region will not exist,” said Harold McClarty, a fourth-generation farmer in Kingsburg whose operation grows, packs and ships peaches, plums and grapes throughout the country. “If we sent all these people back, it would be a total disaster.”
He said that no feasible increase in wages or change in conditions would be enough to draw native-born Americans back into the fields.
Now its hard to have sympathy or feel sorry for these stalwart Republicans who put their “Make America Great Again!” signs all over the roads of the valley and voted for the our great leader. I guess they didn’t believe him when he promised to deport all those criminal and rapist Mexicans.
Yet, many of Mr. Trump’s supporters say they are counting on him to follow through on his promises. Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said that limiting the use of foreign labor would push more Americans into jobs that had primarily been performed by immigrants.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s programming computers or picking in fields,” he said, “Any time you’re admitting substitutes for American labor you depress wages and working conditions and deter Americans.”
Right. Trump is going to open up tens of thousands of jobs for American workers picking radicchio in the fields.
Poor Republicans. Who are they going to exploit?