At least 26 Kern County farmworkers were detained for deportation proceedings as part of a mass sweep last week across Central and Northern California that federal officials said was targeted at convicted criminals.
Many of the farmworkers appeared to have no serious criminal background and were stopped on their way to work by federal immigration officers in unmarked vehicles, said Armando Elenes, a vice president of United Farm Workers of America, which has been trying to document how many people have been detained.
In one instance, Elenes said, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents discovered the person they were looking for at a particular address no longer lived there. “But since they were there, they started to investigate and took some [other] people because they just happened to be there,” he said.
“This is a very divisive tactic that the Trump administration is using, instead of focusing on real solutions,” he said. “These are farmworkers who are trying to make ends meet, who are trying to work and provide for their families… It’s creating a wave of fear throughout the entire agricultural community.”
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