President Donald Trump says his proposed border won’t only benefit those on the border – but all Americans. Will it impact people living in the Central Valley?
The Central Valley is a place with an abundance of immigrants. From downtown streets to the rural farmland – it’s easy to say cities like Fresno wouldn’t be what they are today without immigration.
But what if something changed?
About 350 miles south of the Valley at the U.S. and Mexican border, would the construction of a wall help the Valley in the future? Or would that new wall hurt us?
“All of the drugs that come here, especially south of the border – Mexico,” said Robert Pennal, a retired task force commander of the Central Valley high intensity drug trafficking area.
But many say it’s not that simple of an issue.
“We have a lot to lose across all industries,” said Samuel Molina of Mi Familia Vota.
President Trump wants to keep the bad out, but some in the Valley say a wall would do more harm than good.
“There are approximately 200,000 persons who are undocumented within the Central Valley,” Molina said.
Mi Familia Vota is a nonprofit that works to help the Latino community.
“There are approximately 200,000 persons who are undocumented within the Central Valley.”
According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, there are 76,400 farms and ranches in California, and agriculture is a $54 billion industry.
“There are a lot of immigrant farm workers. It is already hurting the ag industry, and it is hurting the tourism industry. It is going to hurt it by billions of dollars,” Molina said.
Finding farm workers is proving to be difficult for farmers up and down the state already. That may get worse without the people to do the job.
“If something like a wall were to be built, it would be very detrimental to our economy – to our communities,” Molina said.
He said undocumented workers come here for a better life, but everyone benefits.
“He has to see what we are doing for the community,” said an undocumented Fresno State student who Eyewitness News is calling “Vanessa” for this story.
Vanessa came to the U.S. at an early age with her family and said they crossed the border illegally.
She said undocumented people have to make a living and take jobs that most won’t do.
“Labor jobs they are doing in the fields – I think they are doing good things out there. If Trump takes out all those people, that is going to be a huge problem,” Vanessa said.
She said jobs in the field and hard labor jobs support our economy.
“Vallarta, Walmart, or any store – that is where they get the food. That is the big issue for the community in general like the United States,” Vanessa said.
Her father, who is a gardener, is a prime example.
“I actually went with him working as a gardener and you know, I didn’t like it. It was hard, you know? So I said ‘I had to go to college. I don’t want that life,’” Vanessa said.
President Trump has said he wants the crime and drugs to stop flowing into the U.S., but the question is, would a wall impact any of that in the Valley?
One incident that got national attention is a homicide case out of Tulare County.
“She had developed a relationship with a man who was here illegally. He had been deported once, if not twice before,” Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said. “At some point, she wanted to discontinue that relationship. As a result of that, we believe that he killed her.”
Boudreaux explained the case of Cecilia Bravo Cabrera – a mother of four who was last seen leaving Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, Calif. on June 9, 2016.
Her car was found torched in an orchard near Traver, Calif.