Little Village business owners say they're losing money due to deportation fears

FOX 32 NEWS - Businesses in the Little Village neighborhood say they've been hurt by a growing fear of deportations under President Trump's new policies, and community leaders are trying to reduce the paranoia.

“We haven't seen any walk-ins at all, lately,” said Mike Martinez, owner of M Hair Design.

Martinez says on some days, he used to have four or five customers lined up outside when he opened each morning, but not anymore. In recent months, business is off about 20 percent. He blames it on fears of a deportation crackdown.

“There was this girl yesterday, and she was telling us that she saw this brown truck, and she was so scared, thinking that she was going to be picked up,” Martinez said.

Hairdresser Maria Aguirre is one of 12 employees at the salon. She says the fear on the streets is taking a big chunk out of her monthly paychecks.

“I see last year my check was a thousand something, right now my check is $200,” said Aguirre.

Business owners and community leaders say social media is fueling the paranoia with false reports of ICE activities on Facebook and Twitter almost every day.

“We get seven to fifteen calls a day of people wanting to confirm rumors. And another ten to fifteen social media rumors that we have to quash, we have to say no, that's false!” said Alderman Ricardo Munoz.

Alderman Munoz and Little Village Chamber of Commerce officials spoke to nearby business owners this week, asking them to spread the message that so far there have been no ICE raids in the neighborhood.

“As far as ICE and Immigration, we have none of that going on here in the tenth district, that I'm aware of,” said Chicago Police Commander Jimmy Sanchez.

The chamber of commerce also promised help with a new marketing campaign, designed to get shoppers back on the streets, to produce a rebound in sales.

Police say if any "ICE" actions are planned, the feds will have to notify police first, and local leaders and the media would also be alerted.