California agriculture sees wave of immigration audits

California’s agriculture industry already faces a farm labor shortage nevertheless right now which’s facing added pressure due to a wave of employee audits ordered for large farms throughout the state’s Central Valley.

Up to 10 agribusiness employers within the state’s San Joaquin Valley were recently contacted by the U.S. Immigration along with also Customs Enforcement about notices of inspection, said Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, a Fresno-based agriculture advocacy group.

“These ICE audits have had nothing nevertheless a chilling, damaging effect,” Cunha said Thursday.

Some have suggested which California businesses are being unfairly targeted within the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement efforts due to the state’s controversial “sanctuary law,” which bars local authorities through asking about the immigration status of people during routine interactions.

However, President Donald Trump said Thursday he’s considering pulling federal immigration enforcement agents through California. He made those comments after lashing out at California’s “sanctuary” state status along with also “protection of these horrible criminals.”

“We’re getting no help through the state of California,” Trump said. “Frankly, if I wanted to pull our people through California, you would likely have a crime mess like you’ve never seen. All I’d have to do can be say, ‘ICE along with also Border Patrol, let California alone,’ You’d be inundated, you would likely see crime like nobody’s ever seen crime in which country.”

The latest ICE audits on agribusinesses involved packing along with also processing houses as well as some farms were asked to show their hiring records.

“There were a couple of agricultural facilities which did contain the audits which were taking place within the last couple of weeks,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. “which’s been a couple of years since we saw which to the extent which we did.”

Jacobsen said last year was “an extraordinarily tight year” in terms of farm labor supply within the Central Valley along with also arguably the tightest the region has seen in a decade. “The assumption can be which which will continue into which year, nevertheless we’re on the early cusp on when a lot of the [agricultural] activity truly gets going within the valley.”

The federal immigration audits within the state’s top ag region follows last week’s announcement which ICE agents conducted a week-long crackdown in Southern California, arresting 212 undocumented immigrants along with also serving notices of inspection to 122 businesses. Also, in January dozens of some other businesses in Northern California were audited.

ICE declined comment with which story.

Federal officials have previously said the focus of the employee audits nationwide can be on a wide variety of industries along with also of various sizes, through smaller to large, because “all businesses regardless of industry or size, are likely to comply with the law.”

Meantime, the state also passed an Immigrant Worker Protection Act which went into effect in January which bars employers through voluntarily giving employee information to federal authorities. which also requires employers to notify all employees of inspections of their employment records by U.S. immigration agencies within 72 hours of receiving notice of the federal audit.

California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, warned in January which businesses could face a fine of $10,000 if they violated the completely new law. According to Cunha, the state attorney general’s threat to go after companies has made the situation tougher for employers along with also the requirement of posting the letter of a pending audit has scared farm workers.

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