He’s lived, and worked in Ventura County for more than 30 years. He’s raised a half dozen kids, and paid taxes. But, this now 66 year old Camarillo man isn’t in the U.S. legally, despite years of effort to get proper status. Speaking through an interpreter, Alfredo (we aren’t using his full name, because of concerns about his identity) admits he’s worried about what could happen to him and others like him under the new Trump Administration.
Alfredo is one of more than 150 people packing the lobby of the Mexican Consulate in Oxnard, seeking help.
The Consulate serves Mexican nationals living in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo County, a number estimated by officials at the office in excess of 700,000 thousand people.
Consul for Community Affairs Jonathan Alvarez says the numbers of people they’re seeing at their Fifth Street complex has grown from a few hundred to thousands a week since President Trump took office. Consulate officials say rumors of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducting huge sweeps in the region have created so much fear that some people are afraid to go to work, the store, or even to let their kids to go to school.
Javier Cerritos, who’s Consul for Protection and Legal Affairs, says the rumors are simply untrue. Cerritos says they’ve met with ICE officials, who say that there have been no large scale raids in the region. Cerritos says ICE has been focused on people deported in the past, but who have returned to the U.S., and those with criminal records, especially those being released from county jails who don’t have legal status. He says they’ve been holding community meetings throughout the Central and South Coasts to try to reassure undocumented residents that ICE isn’t conducting sweeps targeting people just because of their residency status.
The Mexican consulate official admits it is difficult to reassure people when new rumors are constantly being floated.
Counsul for Community Affairs Jonathan Alvarez says people are still worried about what the Trump Administration could do next. He says many of those coming to the consulate are taking precautions like doing paperwork so their U-S born children will also have Mexican citizenships status.
Alvarez says while they are trying to reassure Mexican nationals that the stories about big sweeps at least for now are untrue, they are urging people to have their paperwork in order, especially if they are planning border crossings.