Immigration orders stir deportation fears

Agriculture is an important part of Ventura County’s economy.
(Photo: STAR FILE PHOTO)

Broad new immigration policies announced Tuesday under the Trump administration are heightening fears among people living in Ventura County without documentation, advocates for immigrants said.

The orders from the Department of Homeland Security also threaten to harm the agricultural industry, which is experiencing a worker shortage that will only grow worse if the government ramps up deportations, local farmers said.

“I don’t know who they think gets work done in this industry, but it’s the immigrants,” said Craig Underwood, owner of Underwood Ranches in Camarillo. “Anything that creates fear among workers is bad.”

Some people without legal immigration documentation are afraid to leave their homes to perform mundane tasks such as picking up their children from school or going to the grocery store, and rumors are circulating through social media about raids and roadblocks set up by immigration agents, advocates said.

This comes after the Department of Homeland Security issued sweeping orders Tuesday to increase immigration enforcement, placing the vast majority of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.

The new enforcement policies instruct agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection to identify, capture and quickly deport every undocumented immigrant they encounter.

Homeland Security officials said the policies would not affect so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the United States illegally as children. But state Superintendent Tom Torlakson said Tuesday that applications for state financial aid were down significantly, and he encouraged undocumented students to apply because the information isn’t shared with other government agencies.

Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, whose district includes part of Ventura, said ICE officials on the Central Coast have told him they will continue to focus on people who have committed serious crimes.

“I am deeply troubled by recent reports from across the country that immigrants with no criminal history are being arrested and deported as a result of the president’s executive orders,” Carbajal said in a statement.

By Amanda Covarrubias and Tyler Hersko for VENTURA COUNTY STAR
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