Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio News

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra met with local officials from across the San Joaquin Valley in Fresno today.

After addressing DACA and criminal justice reform, Becerra said that over the weekend he plans to meet with employers, like growers, to discuss what to expect from federal immigration authorities now that California is officially a sanctuary state.

"I want to make sure employers understand what their rights are but also what their responsibilities are toward their employees," he said.

www.ice.gov

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is responding today to Valley Public Radio’s reporting about the agency’s presence and practices at a facility in downtown Fresno.

In that report, we described an unmarked, under-the-radar Fresno facility that processes and detains individuals coming into ICE custody. We also reported that ICE had not responded to multiple opportunities to comment on the story before it was published.

California Citrus Mutual

The law enforcement agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, may be ramping up its inspections of worksites—and a Valley grower is one of the first to feel the consequences.

Fowler-based Bee Sweet Citrus says it may have lost a fifth of its workforce in anticipation of an inspection by ICE. The federal agency notified Bee Sweet that later this month, it would conduct an I-9 inspection. Meaning the company will need to hand over the forms that verify the identity and employment authorization of each of its employees.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Update Tuesday 2/13:

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