Immigrant workers at Churchill Downs fear deportation

Trainers see shortage of qualified workers
Posted at 1:29 PM, Apr 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-30 13:29:53-04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Workers making preparations for Saturday's Kentucky Derby worry that anti-immigrant fervor in Washington could cause many of them to be deported.

Trainers on the backside of Churchill Downs say there's a shortage of qualified workers to clean stalls, bathe horses and cool them down after workouts.

They fear that a Trump administration crackdown on immigration will be a calamity both for racetracks and many of the workers.

One man has kept working even though his visa expired a couple years ago. If he wasn't working with racehorses, he says he probably would be working in avocado fields in Mexico.

Many workers at the track work legally under the H-2B visa program, but it has limited slots. The crunch has worsened since a "returning worker" exemption expired last September. Congress has not re-authorized the exemption.