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Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Fifteen-year-old Sandra Hernandez can’t get this one Tuesday morning out of her head.

 

“All I was thinking at that time was ‘I wanted my dad back,’” she said. “I wanted him to get in the car and for us to go to school like any other day.”

 

Her father, Hugo Hernandez, was pulled over by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in central-east Fresno on Nov. 5. It was about 7:30 a.m. and he was taking Sandra and her 16-year-old brother Eduardo to school. Eduardo said it was just like any other day.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We talk with the Fresno Police Department about the mass shooting last Sunday that left four dead and six wounded at a party in Southeast Fresno. We also visit a Hmong mini-mall and bring you a postcard of remembrances from people who knew the victims.

And we talk to kids about a father who was apprehended by Immigrant and Customs Enforcement while driving his two teenagers to school. He was then sent to a detention facility.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Dozens of people packed the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to hear Sheriff Margaret Mims present data on 2018 Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity in the county jail. Although Mims was clear her office didn’t hand anyone over to ICE, most community members at the forum were critical of her support for the agency and the timing of the event. 

 

Edith Mata

A Bakersfield College student and farmworker who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after publicly reading a poem critical of the agency was released Monday afternoon after two NFL players and immigration advocacy organizations posted his bail.

 

Valerie Gorospe

On a recent Wednesday at about noon, Aldo’s Mexican Restaurant in Delano was empty. There wasn’t any chatter or the sounds of sizzling carne asada on the stove, just the song Mejor Recuerda by Julión Álvarez playing in the background.  

 

“During the lunch hour, we used to always be busy, running back and forth, back and forth,” said waitress Araceli Mendez in Spanish. “That’s why you now can see the difference. It’s been empty for almost a month.”

 

Edith Mata

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down a First Amendment lawsuit this week that argued Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained a 22-year-old Bakersfield activist and farmworker as a way to retaliate against him. 

 

Parlier Police Department

Immigrant communities in Parlier were on high alert Tuesday after reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents knocking on doors.

 

The United States Department of Homeland Security assisted various Fresno County law enforcement agencies in an operation “held strictly” to identify gang members involved in eastern Fresno County shootings, according to a statement from the Parlier Police Department. 

 

Ariana Martinez Lott / Faith in the Valley

A faith-based grassroots organization in the San Joaquin Valley is ramping up its resources and engaging its network of people to help communities that could be targeted by immigration raids this weekend. 

The New York Times reported Thursday morning Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expected to arrest and deport thousands of people over multiple days starting Sunday. After the news surfaced, Faith in the Valley started taking local action. 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Dozens of people lined up in front of Congressman Devin Nunes’s Clovis office on Tuesday as part of a national protest to close immigration detention centers. 

The #CloseTheCamps protests around the state and country come a day after several Democratic members of Congress visited detention centers at the southern border. There were reports of no running water, overcrowded facilities, people sleeping on floors, drinking out of toilets, and parents not knowing where their children were placed. 

 

Monica Velez

After months of speculation as to whether The Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield would shutter, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement say it will stay open for at least another year.

 

Monica Velez

Tony Amarante’s home in Bakersfield is about an 8-minute drive to the Mesa Verde Detention Facility. He has volunteered there on occasion to visit detainees. But recently he’s been housing immigrants who’ve been released from the facility.

 

“This is my kid's old room,” Amarante says. “I’ve had three asylum seekers stay here. I’m happy to offer them some shelter, a bathroom and get them on the bus or airplane or wherever we got to go.”

 

Monica Velez

About a dozen people walk out of the Merced County Superior Courthouse. They huddle under an awning over the main doors. They’re smiling and embracing each other. The sky is grey and a few drops of rain start to fall. But in a matter of minutes, the weather changes.  

 

“It’s pouring cats and dogs right now,” says ACLU attorney Michael Mehr. “The heavens have opened up and this is a joyous day in the Valley.”

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Highlights from this year’s World Ag Expo, including technology that aligns with California’s clean energy goals. We also revisit a Navy Veteran who was facing deportation proceedings, but now might be off the hook.

Plus: Stranger than fiction? We go inside an explosive report linking election meddling and a secretive Israeli intelligence agency to a hospital in Tulare.

Later, we’ll speak with a Fresno-born composer whose work helped earn the Mary Poppins reboot an Oscar nomination.

Monica Velez

Joaquin Antonio Sotelo Tarin points to the various medals pinned on the left side of his Navy uniform: there’s an Aviation Warfare Specialist insignia, an Operation War on Terrorism Medal, an Iraqi Freedom Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, and a Good Service Medal.

 

The 37-year-old served four years in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. He lives in Los Banos with his wife and four young children.

 

In 2005, he was honorably discharged and when he returned to the United States, civilian life was difficult.

Monica Velez

Cars whiz by on Golden State Avenue near downtown Bakersfield as people shuffle in and out of a tan-colored building. It's surrounded by a high wall with fencing and barbed wire.

 

Three tall flagpoles loom above the perfectly cut grass -- there’s the U.S flag, the state flag, and one with the blue and green GEO Group logo. GEO is a private company that contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate this building, the Mesa Verde Detention Facility.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: A plot of land in southwest Fresno that used to be a landfill is now not just a park, but a national landmark. A historian gives us the gritty details.

Plus: How are local federal employees dealing with the shutdown?  We’ll hear from Fresno IRS workers, who say they’re watching their savings dwindle.

Later we hear from renowned folk singer John McCutcheon, who’s performing in Fresno, and we catch up with arts blogger and critic Donald Munro about the shows he’s excited to watch this winter.

Monica Velez

Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, an undocumented high schooler in Delano received a text from her parents. It was a photo of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in their town. Her parents were on their way to work.

 

“And they turned back,” the 17-year-old says. “We stayed in the house, I didn’t go out, I didn’t go to school for a week. It’s just the constant living in fear and I don’t think anybody should have to go through that.”

 

Monica Velez

About eight years ago Mirsa Urias was working at a restaurant in Bakersfield. She was the only person working up front and says it was business as usual until one man entered.

“He pointed a gun at me and said I had to give him money," the 30-year-old says in Spanish. "I gave him money and he went running out of the store and threatened me before that. He said if I didn’t give him the money he would shoot me.”

Monica Velez

We’re standing in the middle of 350 acres of table grapes just outside of Selma. Soon they’ll be on tables everywhere. Water drips down on the roots of the vines to keep them hydrated in the sweltering heat.

The shade of the grapevine arches keep a person, we’ll call Bob, cool. He’s a grower and labor contractor. He agreed to talk to Valley Public Radio anonymously because he fears being vocal could spur a visit from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last week we brought you an investigative story about a secretive building in downtown Fresno that’s being used to process individuals coming into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. There’s no sign on the building, its address is not listed on the agency’s website, and immigration attorneys are concerned about the detainees’ access to due process.

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