Fear of Deportation

Immigrants take a workshop to make a preparedness plan, in case they are confronted by immigration officials
Immigrants take a workshop to make a preparedness plan, in case they are confronted by immigration officials, at Academia Avance charter school where 48-year-old father of four, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, was recently arrested by ICE agents when he dropped off his daughter for school. | photo by David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images

Amid White House promises to crack down on illegal immigration, fear of deportation is on the rise in Los Angeles County, with more than one-third of residents concerned they or someone they know will be removed from the country, according to a UCLA survey released Tuesday.

The second annual Los Angeles County Quality of Life Index survey, produced by the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, queried about 1,600 county residents between Feb. 28 and March 12, and found that 37 percent are worried about deportation. Of that group, more than half said they were very concerned.

"The level of anxiety over deportation among county residents is staggering," Los Angeles Initiative Director and former County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. "The national debate on immigration has heavily impacted Los Angeles. The extraordinary number of people who now fear engaging local government for services should be of concern for all of us."

A half-Latino man in his 30s in the San Fernando Valley told surveyors he worries about his girlfriend's family. Most of them are in the country legally but one is not, he said. Another respondent, a South Bay white woman in her late 50s, told surveyors she was worried that her neighbors would be deported.

Latinos, followed by Asians, were the ethnic groups most concerned about deportation, and lower-income residents were more concerned than the wealthy.

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Meanwhile, satisfaction with the overall impact immigrants are having on the region rose by four points over the past year.

Despite rising concerns over deportation, health care, gentrification and traffic, the annual study found that overall satisfaction stayed the same.

The survey found that nearly half of respondents felt they would be negatively impacted by a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

In regard to gentrification, more than half of the survey's respondents were upset with the displacement of their neighbors by people who could afford to pay more for housing, while 19 percent viewed the phenomenon as a good thing. In Central Los Angeles, 68 percent of respondents had a negative view of gentrification.

The survey also found that the lengths of commutes were up this year, as were reported concerns about the condition of streets, causing transportation scores to drop.

Satisfaction with the cost of living also dropped, with nearly half of the respondents saying that housing costs were the most important factor in the cost-of-living category.

Meanwhile, views on race relations improved, earning the most positive rating in the survey's index.

"Overall, county residents generally feel positively about their quality of life, the communities in which they live and their relations with one another," Yaroslavsky said in the release. "However, it is troubling that younger people, who should have so much to look forward to, often feel most pessimistic, especially when it comes to the excruciatingly high cost of housing."

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