55 undocumented immigrants remain in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nearly one week after the raid of a Texas trailer manufacturer resulted in the arrest of 159 workers.
According to data ICE provided to Texas station KXII, 98 undocumented workers were released after posting immigration bond, 5 were released on “humanitarian grounds” because they were the primary caregivers to children, and 1 voluntarily returned to Mexico.
Immigration officials say it was the largest raid of its kind in a decade.
“Those arrested were transported to ICE detention facilities in North Texas and Oklahoma,” ICE spokesman Carl Rusdok told KXII. “They remain in ICE custody pending disposition of their immigration cases. In addition to their immigration violations, each individual is also being vetted to determine if they have been previously removed (deported), or if they have outstanding criminal warrants.”
Workers at the plant described a chaotic scene on what was an average work day. Employees were forced to show their documentation to armed guards. Those with satisfactory papers were given green wristbands and were allowed to leave, the others were taken into custody.
“We were just working, like normal day and everything,” Oscar Ramirez, who works as a welder at the trailer manufacturer Load Trail, told KETR. “And then all of a sudden the police came in and they started telling everybody to go to one side, go to one side.”
The owners of the trailer manufacturing company could face criminal charges if they knowingly hired undocumented workers. Four years ago, the business was fined $445,000 for hiring dozens of undocumented workers.
The raid is the latest aggressive ICE maneuver in recent months. Just a few weeks ago, 130 undocumented workers in Minnesota and Nebraska were taken into ICE custody and 17 business owners and managers were indicted for fraud, money laundering, and knowingly hiring and mistreating undocumented immigrants.
“These hardworking people, they shouldn’t be doing this to them. All they want is a better life for their children,” Maria Ortiz, who works at the Antelope County Sheriff’s Office in Nebraska, told the Omaha World-Herald as she consoled the crying daughter of one worker. “Who else is going to do this work?”
On June 5, immigration officials similarly raided a gardening shop in Ohio, arresting 114 workers in the process. That action was preceded by one on April 5, at a rural meatpacking plant in Tennessee. Officials arrested 94 workers as a result of that raid.