Empty streets, slow businesses as ICE instills fear in Immokalee

Fear is in the air as people keep a low profile in Immokalee, waiting to see whose door U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents knock on next.

The aisles in a Mexican grocery store are empty, leaving the food untouched. The manager of La Soriana told WINK News he is usually busy, but business has gone silent since Friday, when stories spread throughout the area that ICE was around.

Mary Cortes’ said business is also slow at her health store. She believes her customers are staying off the streets.

“They don’t know if immigration authorities are coming back,” Cortes said in Spanish, “so they don’t leave their house.”

The anxiety and fear as ICE roundups remain. Cortes told us everyone was scared on Friday, but the concern seems to be dissipating.

Main Street is usually busy, but on Monday there were few people on bicycles peddling down the street. Some other folks were walking around, but nothing close to what is normal in Immokalee.

Henry Sheffield, who lives in Immokalee, said he sees the differences in a matter of a few days.

“You don’t see the people going into the restaurants,” Sheffield said. “You don’t see them going shopping as much as they used to and you don’t see the families out on the streets with their children.”

ICE announced the only people it is looking for are those a judge has already ordered to be deported. But the uneasy feeling remains.

“A lot of people are worried because majority of them have kids and they’re worried about the situation,” Cortes’ said. “What would happen if they separate them?”

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
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