The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that 160 illegal immigrants were detained on Aug. 28 as part of a surprise raid at a Texas manufacturing facility.
The 160 workers were detained at Load Trail, a trailer making firm that had been previously charged with knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, officials said.
“Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses,” said ICE Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger in a statement. “In addition, they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”
ICE said it received information that Load Trail might have been hiring illegal aliens and many were using fraudulent documentation.
“All of the immigration status violators arrested on Aug. 28 will be interviewed by ICE staff and Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS) staff to record any medical, sole-caregiver or other humanitarian situations,” added ICE in a statement.
“Based on these interviews, ICE will determine if those arrested remain in custody or are considered for humanitarian release. In all cases, all illegal aliens encountered will be fingerprinted and processed for removal from the United States,” the statement continued.
Prior Violations at Load Trail
Load Trail was established in 1996 as a family-owned business with approximately 30 employees, according to the firm’s website, adding that it now employs about 500 people. “Today, we are still family owned and operated, our facilities have grown to include over 420,000 square feet, 100 acres, and more than 500 employees. We offer a variety of models that will fit any and every hauler’s needs from goosenecks to single axles,” the firm said.
But The Texas Tribune reported that the company was fined about $450,000 in 2014 for hiring more than 179 unauthorized foreign workers. The company didn’t comment on the recent raid in the Tribune report.
ICE said that the raid at Load Trail might be one of the largest in Texas state history, reported The Dallas Morning News.
Berger told the paper that the raid is a message to any companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. “We’re watching. And we’re coming,” she said.
Dennis Perry, a worker at Load Trail, told the paper that ICE agents “just came and raided from every entrance there was.” He said that some workers went running, and some tried to hide.
Many of the workers were “administratively arrested” and were processed for immigration violations, according to Berger, who told the Morning News that no criminal arrests were made on Aug. 28.
Many of the undocumented immigrants were given notices to show up in immigration court, and many are expected to be released until the hearings start, the paper reported.
In June, ICE arrested more than 100 workers who were suspected of being in the United States illegally. Officials said that 146 were detained in the raid at Fresh Mark facilities, and they were carried out with no prior notice.
“The enforcement action is part of a yearlong, ongoing HSI investigation based on evidence that Fresh Mark may have knowingly hired illegal aliens at its meat processing and packaging facility, and that many of these aliens are utilizing fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens,” said ICE in June after the Fresh Mark raid.
ICE noted that unauthorized workers often use the stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, and it can destroy the ” identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records, and other aspects of their everyday life.”