Immigration Customs Enforcement agents came town Tuesday. Many Hispanic residents went into hiding as word spread. Local police said that the agents took possibly a dozen or so individuals, convicted of crimes and under court order to be deported who returned or never left.
The scare spread through the Latino community like a major ripple in a pond. Kathy Cage of Mammoth Lakes said that she was aware many students who were shaken by reports that one of their friends and a member of the soccer team was picked up with family members for deportation.
Cage said she saw students in tears at the school. As she said, its one of the facts of life that kids make friends and legal status comes as a serious shock at times. Cage said that the kids wanted to know what happens to those picked up by immigration agents.
We called the Immigration Customs Enforcement or ICE office and talked to public information officer Lori Haley. She said that 6 men were arrested in Bishop, 6 in Mammoth Lakes and 4 in Crowley. Haley said arrestees were brought to a processing center in Bakersfield and deported the next day. She did not know about any family members that may or may not have been picked up. Haley said that typically fugitives with children who are U.S. citizens, arrangements are made to leave the children with relatives or take them back to Mexico.
Locally, Mammoth Police Lieutenant Jim Short said the agents’ intent was to arrest a specific few who had violated court orders for deportation. This was not a random sweep, said Lt. Short.
In Bishop, Lieutenant Chris Carter confirmed the presence of ICE agents Tuesday. We were notified this morning that they were in town. They did not request our assistance. Lt. Carter was not aware of how many people the agents picked up in Bishop. He did say they were only in Bishop a couple of hours.
On a side note, Lt. Carter said that news of immigration agents in town had spread fast. He said he had pulled over a contractors pick up truck for spilling paint and the driver took off running. Carter said police and CHP officers searched for the suspect, a Mexican male, who apparently believed the agents were after him.