by Linda Mumma


STOCKTON (CBS13) — President Donald Trump says nationwide raids by immigration authorities, which he delayed nearly two weeks ago, will now begin sometime after the Fourth of July holiday unless Congress can work out a solution to asylum laws.

That news has Central Valley Latino organizations concerned.

“We feel a strong urgency to speak,” said Miguel Jimenez of the Catholic Charities Diocese of Stockton.

Jimenez said he is the child of immigrants, the only citizen in his family and a community member growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of “mass deportations” impacting California families.

“When I entered the scope of society, our president insulted my entire culture, my entire community. Calls my parents criminals and rapists,” Jimenez said.

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He said President Trump’s recent threats of ICE raids and “mass deportations” in cities across the United States are creating fear among of the people he works and interacts with; particularly among field workers.

“Campesinos are afraid to go to work, afraid to be pulled over, afraid to be deported,” Jimenez said.

For that reason, members of the Latino Human Rights Committee of the Central Valley gathered Tuesday morning outside of the Modesto City Hall.

“We’re here to say, ‘Trump, stop the harassment; stop tearing our families away,’” said John Mataka of The Valley Improvement Project, a group of activists and community organizers that advocate for social and environmental justice in Stanislaus County.

The group said it wanted to come together to illustrate how this terror is having an impact on community services. Members said many Latinos are reluctant to call law enforcement agencies to report crimes because they’re afraid of becoming targets themselves.

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“We want to know how the Sheriff Department, Modesto Police Department are working with ICE.  We want to know that they’re following the law,” Mataka said.

CBS13 checked in with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Jeff Dirkse said in an email, he has “no knowledge of any pending sweeps” and his department “doesn’t assist or participate in any immigration issues.”

A spokesperson with the Department of Homeland Security also told CBS13 the agency doesn’t release any details about enforcement actions out of concern for the safety and security of its personnel.

The group gathered in Modesto said the lack of information could have long-term psychological repercussions in the Latino community.

“We want to know specifics about what’s going on and we want the terror to stop,” said Mataka.

Congress did not take up legislation addressing asylum laws before leaving Washington for the Fourth of July recess.

While speaking to reporters last week at the G-20 Summit, President Trump repeated his previous position, stating raids would begin sometime after the holiday.

“Unless we do something pretty miraculous,” he said.

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