California Immigration Sweeps Net Two Dozen Farm Workers

At least 26 farm workers in Kern County were detained for possible deportation from the US during a mass sweep across Northern and Central California, which, federal immigration officials say, was aimed at undocumented immigrants who were also convicted criminals.

But, most of the farm workers do not appear to have serious criminal records. Armando Elenes, the vice president of United Farm Workers of America, said that federal immigration officers, driving unmarked vehicles, stopped them while they were heading for work. Elenes claims that in one instance agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went to an address for a particular individual, failed to find them, but arrested others there anyway.

In total, 232 individuals were arrested during the latest sweep, which took in everywhere from Bakersfield to the border of Oregon during a four-day period. 180 of those arrested had criminal convictions, received a final removal order, or had already been deported from the US, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 115 had felony convictions for serious offenses, including assault, weapons charges, and child sex crimes, or multiple or significant misdemeanors.

ICE officials acknowledged that undocumented immigrants from specific categories or classes are no longer exempt from potential arrest during such sweeps. Last week, ICE released a statement claiming that such sweeps were necessary in a state that refused to allow its law enforcement officers to cooperate with federal immigration officials.