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Quiet Streets, Empty Markets On The Sunday Trump Promised ICE Raids

" Ni las moscas están [Not even the fleas are here]." That's how one shopkeeper at the Tropicana Flea Market in Miami's Allapattah neighborhood described the usually bustling place on Sunday. 

Business owners attributed the unusually quiet weekend to the warning of raids by immigration agents in South Florida and around the country.

"People are clearly hiding. If you look around, it's the people who are working are basically the only people here. But the majority of our clients are immigrants. Some with papers, others with no papers, but they are all scared," said Yohanna Gomez,  a Honduran immigrant who runs a Central American stall in the market. 

Gomez said she talked with her attorney before coming to work and was told not to worry, since she has legal status and a clean record.

"Up until now, it seems like [ICE] isn't bothering with people like me," she said.

President Donald Trump announced last Friday that the ICE raids he said had been postponed two weeks ago would start on Sunday, July 14, in 10 cities around the country, including Miami, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston and Los Angeles. New Orleans was on the original list of cities but operations there were suspended due to the inclement weather brought by Tropical Storm Barry. 

"It starts on Sunday, and they're going to take people out, and they're going to bring them back to their countries, or they're going to take criminals out — put them in prison or put them in prison in the countries they came from," Trump said during a press conference outside the White House. 

Immigration sources have indicated that raids could last for days and they are targeting individuals with removal orders. According to Acting Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Kevin Cuccinelli, that's approximately 1 million people in the country. 

Shopkeeper Margot Perez
Credit Katie Lepri / WLRN News
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WLRN News
Shopkeeper Margot Perez

Margot Perez is a Costa Rican immigrant who runs a clothing and fabric shop with her Cuban husband at the Tropicana Flea Market. She pays around $250 a week for her space in the market.

"The situation is critical. Everything is empty. Cafeterias, businesses, everything, because supposedly deportations would start today," said Perez. "Last week was good compared to this one, but the week before it was like this — bad."

Two weeks ago President Donald  Trump warned of massive immigration raids in an effort to deport more than a million people. He later said that he called it off at the last minute.

"I think that mostly this is smoke and mirrors. Una cortina de humo," said Gomez. "Trump is putting psychological pressure on the people on the outside so they don't come to the U.S., and also to people here — that we be careful and try to legalize ourselves."

Vendors at the the Lake Worth Swap Shop reported a Sunday quieter than usual.
Credit Alejandra Martinez / WLRN News
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WLRN News
Vendors at the the Lake Worth Swap Shop reported a Sunday quieter than usual.

At an open-air Mexican restaurant called “Las Reynas #3” at the Lake Worth Swap Shop, it was a lively Sunday afternoon. A mix of Tejana singer Selena’s songs was blasting through speakers, women were dancing and men were drinking Modelo beer from six-bottle buckets.

And although diners were scarfing down Al Pastor and Carne Asada tacos, and clapping and singing along to the music, vendors and waiters say the rest of the market was quieter than usual.

Margarita Palacios, 46, said she’s been selling hats, glasses and other Chinese products from her stall at the swap shop for 13 years. Today, she said, was quieter than usual – fewer vendors than the same time a month ago, and all the foot traffic seemed to be from other sellers, not customers.

Por ejemplo, un mes antes en esta hora había mucha gente. Hoy lo pueden ver ustedes – casi no hay nadie [For example, one month ago at this hour there was a lot of people. Today you can see for yourselves - there's barely anybody ],” she said. “  Y creo que los que andan caminando son los mismos vendedores [And I think that those people you see walking around are the vendors].”

Some said July can be a slower month anyway, but most pointed to fears over rumored immigration raids as the reason more people stayed home on Sunday. 

One woman working in the Lake Worth Swap Shop’s office pulled out a text message that had been sent around the community, warning people not to buy anything and to stay home.

Manténte en tu casa. Unidos podemos demostrar la falta que le hacemos a este país,” it read. “Stay at home. Together we can show this country how much they need us.”

A text message was sent around the community in Lake Worth, warning migrants not to buy anything and to stay home.
Credit Madeline Fox / WLRN News
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WLRN News
A text message was sent around the community in Lake Worth, warning migrants not to buy anything and to stay home.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

The Tropicana Flea Market was quieter than usual this Sunday, July 14, according to patrons and shopkeepers.
Katie Lepri / WLRN News
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WLRN News
The Tropicana Flea Market was quieter than usual this Sunday, July 14, according to patrons and shopkeepers.

Sellers at the Tropicana Flea Market were passing time watching television.
Katie Lepri / WLRN News
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WLRN News
Sellers at the Tropicana Flea Market were passing time watching television.

Daniel Rivero is a reporter and producer for WLRN, covering Latino and criminal justice issues. Before joining the team, he was an investigative reporter and producer on the television series "The Naked Truth," and a digital reporter for Fusion.
Teresa Elena Frontado specializes in helping newsrooms navigate the complexities of digital transitions while incorporating new platforms and technology into their workflows. She has more than 20 years of experience working for media organizations in the United States and Latin America, including CBS Miami, Univision Network, El Nuevo Herald, El Nacional (Venezuela) and El Universal (Venezuela).
Alejandra Martinez is the associate producer for WLRN&rsquo's Sundial. Her love for radio started at her mother’s beauty shop where she noticed that stories are all around her - important stories to tell.
Madeline Fox is a senior at Northwestern University, where she is double majoring in journalism and international studies. She spent most of her time there writing and editing at the Daily Northwestern, her campus paper, before launching a podcast called Office Hours last spring. Though a native of the much-parodied hipster paradise of Portland, Oregon, Madeline has spent the last three years moving around a lot: Chicago for school, a stint covering transportation policy on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. for Medill News Service and a summer covering news at the Wichita Eagle in Kansas. After finally getting her passport about a year and a half ago, she's been working to fill it with stamps, too: She spent a semester in Sevilla, Spain, to study history; traveled to Israel and the West Bank this summer to learn about Middle East reporting and went to France this winter to conduct interviews for her thesis on the Paris suburbs. When she's not reporting, Madeline can be found cooking, reading or wandering around different parts of the city – nearly always with earbuds in, listening to podcasts. A few of her favorites are Crimetown, Radio Ambulante and Radiolab's More Perfect. She's very excited to be living in Miami, with its many new neighborhoods to explore and its famous food and beaches. After graduation, Madeline hopes to continue working in radio or podcasting.
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