Rumors of raids scare Aspen-area immigrants
A large number of Latino immigrants did not show up for work at temp agencies in the Roaring Fork Valley Monday, the apparent fallout from a rumor about widespread immigration raids in the area. “Some guys came in in the morning and said they didn’t want to work, or called me and said they heard about immigration checkpoints in El Jebel,” said Claudia Miranda, office manager for Mountain Temps in Carbondale. “People were actually refusing to come to work today and many people stayed at home.”Deputy Marie Munday, the Latino-Anglo liaison for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, said that she was inundated with calls on Monday from people who said they’d heard about raids. She said an immigration official in Grand Junction assured her that no such raids were occurring in the Roaring Fork Valley.”Someone said a … bus was stopped and everyone was taken off so that they could arrest immigrants,” Munday said. “Another person said they’d heard that restaurants in Carbondale, El Jebel and Basalt were being raided.”Munday said she heard rumors of several immigration checkpoints set up in the valley, and even that authorities went into Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs for a raid.”Anyone who hears these rumors calls everyone they know and says, ‘Don’t go to work today’ or ‘Keep your kids out of school,'” she said.Munday theorizes the rumors began because of recent raids on the West Coast. Immigration officials there went inland from the borders on a special project to arrest illegal immigrants who escaped detection at the border.”I did have to replace some workers today and I didn’t know why. Now I guess I know why,” said Linda Burge, manager at Aspen’s Labor Source – a local temp agency that works with immigrants. .Burge said she hears such rumors occasionally from employees and said they can spin out of the control because many immigrants have limited English skills.”When they hear something it can get out of hand,” she said. “I have papers for all of my people and they only have to worry if they’re not legal. But they don’t understand this culture and they don’t hear good things about law enforcement.”Munday said that sometimes rumors start when immigrants see drunken-driving checkpoints set up by the Colorado State Patrol. But she said she’s never received such a large volume of phone calls in one day as she did Monday.According to a July 10 article from the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., tales of raids to capture illegal immigrants have been rampant from Oregon to California; immigration officials maintain the rumor is baseless.A farm workers union in Oregon has even considered running announcements on Spanish-language radio stations to put the rumor to rest, because many immigrant workers in the fields may be to scared to show up for work. The article said that in the Northwest, U.S. immigration officers recently served arrest warrants in eastern Washington for illegal immigrants wanted for crimes. That activity caused “a big panic” among Hispanics, an agency spokesman with the agency’s Seattle office said.