Columbia Co. business owners: ICE raids negatively impacting local economy

May 29, 2017 06:43 PM

HUDSON – Data from the Department of Homeland Security shows there has been a nearly 40 percent increase of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in President Trump's first 100 days in office.

“He couldn't stay in the area so he told us that the best option for him is to leave,” said Juliana Santos.

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Santos owns the Oak Pizzeria Napoletana with her husband in Hudson.

Last week their cook, who is originally from Guatemala, quit and left the area because he said he feared ICE officials would pick him up.

Six of the cook’s Hudson roommates, who were also from Guatemala, were detained by ice on May 12.

“So they were either undocumented or overstayed their visa status,” Santos said.

However, Santos is not sure because she only asks employees to give her required legal documents - not their immigration status.

“You need to fill out a W-2 form and you need a Social Security card and another form of identification,” she said.

Santos is looking for a new dishwasher and cook after changing the menu and experiencing a loss in profits.

“All the other cooks that we have are worried too,” Santos said. “It's just a trickle and it's been really hard to hire new people because a lot of people have fled the area.”

The dishwasher was one of two roommates of the cook who remain detained at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center according to the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, which helped get the four others released.

“After they are in Albany if they are not released in Albany they go to the Batavia detention center,” said Jody Bolluyt.

Bolluyt is a member of the group and co-owns Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook.

She said there has been an increase of ICE raids in Columbia County recently.

Members of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement believe Hudson may be a target because it is the only place in the county with a sanctuary city policy protecting immigrants.

“Just people who've been here working for so many years,” Bolluyt said. “I mean we want their labor and then we don't want to protect them and offer them the same freedoms we have.”

Santos, who is a native of Brazil, said they immigrants who come here are fleeing desperate situations.

“Not only different economic situations but also quality of life situations. Social unrest,” Santos said.

Bolluyt also said other businesses in the area are experiencing similar circumstances.

She said many business owners are afraid to speak out because they fear they could or jeopardize their immigrant employees.


Nia Hamm

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