Kentucky

Immigrant workers fear deportation at Churchill Downs

  • Groom Cesar Abregu gives a bath to one of the horses being trained by Dale Romans following his morning workout at Churchill Downs, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Acevedo, an immigrant from Guatemala, is in the United States on an H-2B visa. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

    Groom Cesar Abregu gives a bath to one of the horses being trained by Dale Romans following his morning workout at Churchill Downs, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Acevedo, an immigrant from Guatemala, is in the United States on an H-2B visa. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, April 13, 2017, photo, Baldemar Bahena, assistant trainer to Dale Romans, talks about the importance of immigrant workers to the horse racing industry in his backside office at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

    In this Thursday, April 13, 2017, photo, Baldemar Bahena, assistant trainer to Dale Romans, talks about the importance of immigrant workers to the horse racing industry in his backside office at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)  (The Associated Press)

  • Assistant trainer Baldemar Bahena, left, and trainer Dale Romans look on as a groom bathes a horse at Churchill Downs, Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Immigrants have become indispensable at Churchill Downs and other tracks. Now, fear is spreading that a Trump administration crackdown on immigration will be a calamity both for the tracks and for many of their workers. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

    Assistant trainer Baldemar Bahena, left, and trainer Dale Romans look on as a groom bathes a horse at Churchill Downs, Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Immigrants have become indispensable at Churchill Downs and other tracks. Now, fear is spreading that a Trump administration crackdown on immigration will be a calamity both for the tracks and for many of their workers. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)  (The Associated Press)

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.