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Tue Mar 7, 2017, 01:38 PM

Immigration raids having chilling effect as fear keeps customers away from small stores

Immigration raids are starting to have an impact on small businesses out West, with some merchants suggesting a climate of fear is keeping customers away.

"We're seeing more cases of people reluctant to patronize the stores they were going to," said Mark Arabo, owner of San Diego's Lulu's International Market and former president of the Neighborhood Market Association, a business group of about 2,000 small stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. "It's fear for ICE and it's fear for the government."

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has held several enforcement actions in Southern California that have generated headlines, including the arrest last week of a Mexican immigrant dropping his teenage daughters off at school.

Lori Haley, a spokesperson for ICE, said in a written response Monday that agents and special officers have made "criminal and administrative arrests every day in the course of carrying out their mission to uphold public safety." She added, "Our arrests are targeted we don't engage in indiscriminate sweeps or raids."


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