Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent a strong message to employers who hire illegal immigrants with a Wednesday raid on a Texas company that netted more than 280 people working in the U.S. illegally.
The raid on the Allen, Texas, location of CVE Electronics, a New Jersey-based company, was described as the biggest workplace immigration raid in a decade, NBC reported. Four related staffing businesses were also raided. Allen is located 25 miles from Dallas.
“Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses. They take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce,” Katrina Berger, Homeland Security Investigations Dallas special agent in charge, said according to USA Today.
“We need integrity in our immigration systems. Illegal workers, these companies need to go about it properly. They need to be using a legal workforce. It’s required by law,” Berger said, KTVT reported.
The investigation began in January after ICE received tips that illegal immigrants had been hired by the company. An audit of CVE’s I-9 forms was then performed, NPR reported.
“Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. “All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens.”
The laws perform “necessary and common sense functions,” Berger said.
“They ensure U.S. citizens and legal U.S. residents are hired for jobs in the U.S. They also ensure that illegal workers are not preyed upon or paid less than the going wage or otherwise coerced or cheated or subjected to unsafe working conditions without any means of complaint,” she said.
However, those arrested and their families were displeased at the loss of their jobs.
“It’s not fair. It’s really sad and it makes a lot of people really angry and frustrated,” Anel Perez, daughter of a detained worker, said.
“The hardest thing was when the bus started taking off,” Wendy Armas of Gautemala, who was arrested and released to appear in court next month, said. She added that she had worked for five years at CVE.
“There was a long moment of silence, people crying, people saying, ‘I’m going to leave this country and go back to my own.'”
Some of those arrested could be eligible for a humanitarian release after being interviewed, Berger said. Others will be sent back to the home countries.
“Unauthorized workers often use stolen IDs of legal U.S. workers, which can profoundly damage for years the identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life,” ICE said in a statement.
“The investigation is ongoing, but we can disclose that this is the largest ICE work site operation at one site in the last 10 years,” said Berger.
Raids on employers who hired illegal immigrants have stepped up under the Trump administration.
“Not only are we going to prosecute the employers that hire illegal workers, we’re going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers,” former acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said in 2017, announcing the change in policy.
“When we find you at a work site, we’re no longer going to turn our heads. We’ll go after the employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien … but we’re always going to arrest a person who is here illegally. That is our job,” he said, according to CNN.
In August, immigration officials said they thought a raid at a Texas company was its largest in a decade when it arrested 160 workers at Load Trail, a manufacturing company located in Paris Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News. Last June, 114 workers were arrested at two locations of Corso’s Flower and Garden Center, an Ohio gardening center, according to The Washington Post.
Before that, ICE had raided Southern Provision, a meatpacking company located in in Bean Station Tennessee, in April 2018 and arrested 97 workers, according to The Washington Post.
CORRECTION, April 6, 2019: A previous version of this article stated that the federal I-9 form is used to verify citizenship. After a reader pointed out our error, we removed that statement and replaced it with a quotation from the USCIS website explaining what the Form I-9 is actually used for: to verify the eligibility of an individual to work in the U.S.
We apologize for the error and any confusion it may have caused.
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