Stockton Waterfront Warehouse Restaurant owner Maria “Nena” Salcedo and assistant Lilia Serreno remember what it was like working in the fields as little girls when federal agents showed up.
“There was a lot of illegal people and I remember them running from the migra when they were chasing them," said Serreno.
Nena’s Mexican Restaurant in downtown Stockton employs about 40 workers.
“Everyone is hired with what the state requires," said Serreno.
Still, what if the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents showed up at the restaurant asking for documentation of their workers? The restaurant says they would not cooperate.
“There’s a California law that you don’t have to if you don’t need to and Nena would not like to participate in that," added Serreno.
No ICE agents have shown up at the restaurant, but Serreno says guests have said ICE have appeared at warehouses nearby and made arrests.
And what about Agriculture which has the vast majority of California’s labor force is dependent upon undocumented immigrants?
“I’m in the middle. I just want to work and do my job," said Jorge Eguiluz, Stockton Farm labor contractor.
Eguiluz has worked 22 years as a farm labor contractor, and he supplies up to 300 workers at a time to Stockton area growers.
So, would he cooperate with if ICE came calling?
“We don’t want to break the law, but at the same time we need these people to help us harvest our crops," said Eguiluz. "At this point I’m going to wait and see what’s going to happen."
Eguiluz also says he has lost a large number of workers due to fear of being deported, combined with moving up from agriculture to another sector of the workforce because of the economy.
So far, he hasn't witnessed ICE raids with his workers in the fields, but he knows it’s a real possibility.