SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — President Trump threatened to crack down on undocumented workers last week saying this week ICE could start arresting people for a mass deportation as early as Sunday.
ICE agents have already moved in, allegedly.
“My brother told me that he’s seen them yesterday. So, I mean, people are worried,” said Lucia Zavala.
She got a text from her brother in Santa Ana about ICE agents seen near a popular restaurant.
Federal officials have allegedly been told that they will begin arresting people Sunday but it’s not clear exactly where or how.
Zavala spoke to CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Michele Gile about her fears. They mostly concern her immediate family.
“I mean not able to see [my parents] ever again, even my brothers some of them don’t have any papers,” she says.
Santa Ana is a sanctuary city where at least half of the residents are foreign-born.
Police do not make immigration arrests. There are attorneys in town with the city-funded Immigrant Defenders Law Center who will help anyone detained.
“I think a lot of people are scared and nervous,” says immigrants rights lawyer Cynthia Felix, “that no matter where they are, they can be apprehended and taken away from their family.”
Gile spoke to a man who has been reading social media posts warning about ICE and what he describes as checkpoints in Santa Ana.
“There have been checkpoints at McFadden,” Steve says, “And I’ve heard Harbor, and Bristol.”
The police department has emphasized it has not been informed of any crack down and will not endorse any checkpoints on city streets. Officers stress they never cooperate with ICE due to the Sanctuary City law.
“Our message is to be prepared and not panic,” says Felix. “To make a plan with your family members about who you’re going to call if you are picked up.
Attorneys say to have all of your immigration documents at the ready in case you’re one of the ones arrested.
Today, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner issued a statement about the potential of immigration raids.
He wrote, “We are committed to providing a safe and welcoming learning environment for all of the students, families and communities we serve. The recent reports of potential immigration sweeps by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials targeting California are disturbing and create anxiety among students, families and communities. We will continue to protect the rights of all we serve, regardless of their immigration status. For additional resources and information, please visit our website.”
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also issued a statement about possible raids.
“I strongly oppose President Trump’s threats of mass deportations on Twitter and television. His actions are irresponsible and unnecessary if, in fact, the president is truly concerned with removing violent undocumented felons to ensure your public safety.
As your Los Angeles County Sheriff, I stand for everyone’s public safety and understand a basic principle of law enforcement practices, which is that we cannot ensure public safety if undocumented residents are afraid to report a crime.”
CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Sara Donchey spoke to two different men with two different immigration experiences — but both had a growing fear in common.
She also spoke to Melvin Valiente, the pastor at First Baptist Church in Maywood. He said he’s opening his doors to migrants afraid of deportation.
“Some people are afraid,” Valiente says, “because they have seen some raids in their communities where they don’t take only criminals. They take anybody there that doesn’t have any documents.”
While ICE agents insist they are only looking for criminals, Valiente isn’t so sure.
“These are not criminals. We are not talking about bad people,” he says, “They are people who have families, children and who also have a dream. They want to have a better life.”