ICE’s presence at the Super Bowl had a chilling effect on Los Angeles’ undocumented street vendors

All eyes were on Inglewood, California’s SoFi stadium last week when the Rams won the Super Bowl. But in the days leading up to the big event, state and federal authorities cleared the area around the stadium of any semblance of real life in Los Angeles—including vendors who serve food from carts and other mobile operations. Local police and sanitation teams removed groups of unhoused people near SoFi, and hundreds of officials with the Department of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), were on the scene to reportedly assist with security—this seemed to mean cracking down on people who sell tacos, other food, and merch. ICE’s presence was not well-received by activists protesting how mega-events like the Super Bowl affect low-income residents and workers. According to L.A. Taco, street vendor advocates saw the agency’s presence as “an intimidation tactic to deter street vendors.” Food vendor Rubén Leon Sanchez explained that he relies on sales made during large sporting events and concerts. As an undocumented person whose cart has been confiscated in the past, Sanchez was scared to hear of the authorities in the area. “[T]here’s a high possibility of losing everything, but we live off of this so we have to take that risk,” he said. Tina Vasquez