Immigrant workers fear deportation at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) 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.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.