Trump immigration policy: A Napa worker fears deportation

NAPA (KTVU) -- President Donald Trump’s policies on immigration are impacting families across the country and have generated a wide range of responses, including in the Bay Area where the policy is stirring fear and concern in some quarters.

The state of California is home to over 2 million undocumented immigrants, according to the latest data from the Public Policy Institute of California with the majority coming from Latin America.

One woman who, requested anonymity and is being identified only as Maria, spoke to KTVU about her fears of being undocumented in Napa County said she is fearful of being deported.

“We are scared to go and come from the house,” Maria said in Spanish. “It’s a fear we’ve had since Trump took office.”

She said she is fearful of Trump's focus on deporting any undocumented person, with or without a criminal record. Former President Barack Obama's administration deported a record numbers of undocumented immigrants but his administration focused on criminal offenders. 

In a report released Wednesday from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency said they have arrested more than 41,000 individuals who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally, which reflects an 37.6 percent increase over the same period in 2016.

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Maria works in the vineyards of Napa Valley. She has pruned and prepped vines each season for the past 15 years, but is now arranging for the possibility of her or her husband being deported to Mexico while their U.S. born children stay behind.

“We are already planning the paperwork to have our kids stay with family members in case we are taken,” she said.

It is a new reality for many families, according to Melissa Patrino, Executive Director of Puertas Abiertas in Napa.

"Things have changed,” Patrino said. “There’s just a definite fear in our community."

Patrino said the county recently presented her organization with a proclamation backing immigrants in Napa County. The community resource center is seeing more undocumented parents asking for a notarized, temporary guardianship letter.

"We’re helping parents fill that out so that a guardian can have access to their children if the parents are in fact deported," she said.

Patrino said it appears ICE is ramping up their efforts in Napa County. In one case, she said ICE recently followed a father to his child’s school.

"After he dropped off his child, he was then followed and then at that point he was pulled over an picked up by ICE,” Patrino said.

She said the organization has had 14 detainments reported to them in Napa County since the start of the year, compared to zero reports in 2016.

A spokesman for the Napa County Republican Party was unavailable for comment on their response to illegal immigration.

The San Francisco Republican Party, however, stands behind President Trump’s policy. The party recently passed a resolution urging San Francisco to end its sanctuary city policy and require local law enforcement to notify federal immigration officials when illegal aliens in custody have been convicted of a serious or violent felony. 

Patrino see deportations as a human rights issue and she said it would be difficult for the wine industry to survive without skilled workers like Maria. Maria’s employers, a vineyard management company, have never asked for proof of legal status.

“I figure they don’t ask for papers because they need workers,” Maria said, adding that she constantly worries she could be detained and deported at a moment’s notice.

One in a series of three reports by KTVU reporter Cristina Rendon about how the Trump administration's immigration policy is affecting the Bay Area and beyond.

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