At the end of a torrid work day on Wednesday, the Taqueria El Sol de Jalisco was left without a single table in the restaurant occupied by customers.
Ricardo Rojas, the proprietor of the restaurant, stepped into the pavement of the street adjoining his restaurant and loud music was coming from a stereo speaker playing cumbia music on a vermillion metal bench.
He looks into the street as though he was about to summon a customer from thin air.
Located posterior to him, two sign post drawn in Spanish were posted to the transparent white wall of his building.
The two signs were showing vacancy for jobs in the fields located in his town of Tulare County, just south of Sacramento by about 240 miles. A few pieces of paper with mobile numbers to contact were hanging from the signs. Apparently, none had been picked up
In Spanish, Rojas calmly said “We have jobs available. Everywhere you turn, there is one vacancy or the other. We have jobs. There are no workers available to do these jobs, though. No one is available to work.”
Rojas admitted that business on his side had reduced by about half over the last 60 days. The clients who used to come into his restaurant for a quick bite now choose to have their food in their cars, in case they can make a quick escape should immigration officials come around.
There is palpable panic everywhere.
The previous night, the indigenous school turned out to be one of the premier education centers to certify its school grounds a comfortable place for both students and families. That meant that it wouldn’t inquire from students their migration status or let the federal migration officials into the premises of the school.
That fear extends all throughout the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley.
It is one of the most arable grounds on planet earth. The picking season in spring is almost upon us, and farm owners are pretty sure that their farmlands would be invaded by immigration officials’ hell bent on picking up and taking away illegal migrants and deporting them back to their native lands of Mexico or Central America.
A lot of farmers are scared that law enforcement authorities will enact roadblocks on the highways.
That, farm workers agree, has already reduced the number of free farm hands by half. That is a lot.