Anxiety, tears and prayers in California’s immigrant community

Coachella (California): For the past three decade, Emilio Lopez Bautista has risen before dawn and headed to work in the farm fields of Califo

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Coachella (California): For the past three decade, Emilio Lopez Bautista has risen before dawn and headed to work in the farm fields of California, earning an honest living, buying a house, and steering clear of trouble.

But today, the 66-year-old, who entered the US illegally from Mexico 30 years ago with his wife and six children, says nothing feels safe or predictable anymore.

Lopez Bautista lives in constant fear that he or a relative could fall victim to President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.

“We are afraid when we step out of the house at five in the morning to go work in the fields, we are afraid while driving, we are afraid at work and we are afraid at home,” said Lopez Bautista, who lives in the Coachella Valley, a rich agricultural region in southern California that is home to tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants employed as farm laborers.

He said since Trump’s immigration policies were unveiled on Tuesday, anxiety has spread like wildfire among community members.
“I am very sad and there are days when I can’t sleep,” said his wife Prudencia.

“What will happen to our grandchildren if we or their parents are arrested? Who will care for them?”

Lopez Bautista said the family was now being more careful with spending in case they are deported, and the couple tries to remain calm in front of their grandchildren.

“There are no other opportunities for us than to work in the fields and if we go back to Mexico we will have no possibilities there,” he said. “This is home for us now.”

Trump’s deportation rules vastly expand the government’s immigration enforcement powers, essentially allowing federal agents to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether or not they have a criminal record.

Trump claims his new policies as necessary to protect US communities from people who “present a significant threat to national security and public safety.”
Research, however, shows that the level of crime among immigrants is much lower than among native-born Americans.

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