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San Joaquin County Forces Market to Kick Migrant Workers Off Property

STOCKTON -- An east Stockton convenient store that was helping seasonal migrant workers has now been ordered to stop.

The Shop N Buy Market near Linden allowed those picking cherries to pitch tents, sleep and shower on its property. An empty field is where the owners of the market had allowed the migrant workers to stay for six-week spans each year for around 20 years.

But now San Joaquin County’s Environmental Health Department has ordered them to go.

The county says it all started when it got a complaint people were sleeping in tents and their cars on the property with no restroom facilities. The health department visited the site and found people sleeping there, but also said there are restrooms available to them.

FOX40 was told the owners of the market used to allow dozens of migrant workers to use the bathrooms in the store and even a shower they had built just for them. But state law requires a permit to house more than five migrant workers.

So, the health department was forced to kick them out.

Now, without this location available to them, a spokesperson from the Migrant Workers Project says those workers will now be homeless.

"When they enforce the law, people went to stay behind the K-Mart, behind the bridge with other people and the homeless. And that’s a big, big change for the people who just only want to stay for a few weeks and sleep," said Luis Magaña. "It’s not loitering, nothing like that. Just to find a place to sleep in their cars.”

FOX40 did ask the store’s owner if she wanted to talk about the county’s decision but she declined.