It wasn’t a surprise to anyone when the New York state troopers turned Mexican Gabriela Gutierrez over to the U.S. Border Patrol after a traffic stop when she was going to the grocery store with her three-year-old daughter Lucy. The journey was only a little over a mile from her mobile home park but, according to John “Lory” Ghertner of Migrant Support Services of Wayne County, there have been more deportations originated from Sodus, New York than the Postville raid—an operation that generated considerable press attention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on an Iowa slaughterhouse that arrested nearly 400 undocumented workers in 2008.
“It just hasn’t happened at the same time,” Ghertner said. He stressed that there have been more immigration removals per capita in this 4,000 person small community in rural western New York state—just past Rochester—than any other place in the country.
In this sense, Gutierrez’s arrest was not a surprise at all, but it also wasn’t a surprise that she was stopped on the way to the grocery store. Since 9/11, and particularly in the last four years, Homeland Security forces have entered Sodus in a way that community members have never seen before, and, they say, they are targeting anything normal and routine, which includes the most basic places such as grocery stores, laundromats, and churches.