Agricultural workers, DACA recipients and other immigrants gathered Monday in six Central Valley and Central Coast cities to denounce the recent immigration enforcement measures by officials in California's main agricultural regions.
In a statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that officials arrested hundreds of field workers in the state. The raids, intended to detain convicted criminals, were carried out from the central part of the state all the way to the Oregon border, ICE said.
With signs in hand, hundreds of field workers protested in Bakersfield after ICE agents arrested at least 26 people working in Kern County last week.
The protests were organized by the United Farm Workers of America, which urged its members to show up to the same fields where immigration agents have detained, interrogated and sometimes even arrested workers and other immigrants while they were on their way to work in the biggest agricultural areas of the state.
In all, 232 people were detained in the raids, which ended last Wednesday, according to ICE.
"The majority were people on their way to work of whom agents had information like license plate numbers or car color," UFW Vice President Armando Elenes said.
While ICE claimed that the goal of the raids was to arrest people with criminal convictions, many of those arrested did not have any criminal records, Elenes said. Agents looking for certain people in their homes also ended up arresting others who were inside the homes at the time of the raids, he said.
Undocumented farm workers, UFW said, are not obligated to provide immigration officials with anything other than their name, and they have the right to ask for a lawyer and remain silent.
ICE confirmed that 180 of the people arrested were undocumented immigrants who had been previously deported or had a pending removal order. The agency said that 115 of those detained had committed either a serious crime or multiple minor crimes.
UFW members plan to denounce ICE's actions Tuesday in Orosi, an agricultural town in Northern California's Tulare County.