As a part of its wider attack on undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration has ramped up its workplace arrests for immigration violations by conducting multistate raids in a last few months.
According to the BuzzFeed news, more than 130 undocumented workers were reportedly arrested just recently in raids led by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The raids were reportedly conducted after a 15-month investigation looked into companies that were allegedly hiring undocumented workers.
From Minnesota to Nebraska, the ICE officials handed criminal arrest warrants to around 17 individuals. Meanwhile, search warrants were issued to multiple farms, restaurants, stores, and factories.
The agency accused the arrested individuals were complicit in “criminal conspiracy to exploit illegal alien laborers for profit, fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.”
Moreover, about 133 undocumented workers were reportedly arrested on civil immigration charges. The agency released a few of them due to humanitarian reasons. However, others were detained as the ICE said the workers were “exploited by the conspirators through force, coercion, or threat of arrest and/or deportation.”
The last massive workplace raid in which 114 people were arrested took place in June. It was regarded as one of the largest since Donald Trump took office.
In fact, the immigration officials under the Trump administration have made 1,659 criminal and administrative worksite-related arrests between October 2017 and July 2018. That is over five times the number of such arrests made in past fiscal year.
The advocates of the crackdown believe such measures are essential in order to safeguard the American jobs. On the other hand, critics believe such draconian actions have struck fear among the immigrant community across the country.
“This is certainly a departure from what we did — we focused on bad actors and getting criminal cases. Clearly when you jam up civil immigration dockets with individuals like these people who are just showing up for work and are probably victims of exploitation then that drains resources from ICE’s ability to focus on the bad guys,” said John Sandweg, who was acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014.
The ICE officials claimed the yearlong investigation revealed how some companies were knowingly hiring and harboring undocumented workers.
“This HSI-led criminal investigation has shown that these targeted businesses were knowingly hiring illegal workers to unlawfully line their own pockets by cheating the workers, cheating the taxpayers, and cheating their business competitors,” the ICE statement read.
However, the migrants’ advocates believed the crackdown was unfairly targeting even those families who are working day and night to make the ends meet.
“They tear apart hard-working families and spread panic throughout towns across our state. As rumors of an increased ICE presence have recently spread across central Nebraska, we’ve seen how the fear has hurt local communities. Parents become afraid to go to work or even send their children to school. It leaves a scar across entire towns. The White House’s cruel anti-immigrant policies aren’t just hurting families at our southern border, they are causing deep pain right here at home,” said Darcy Tromanhauser, communications director of Nebraska Appleseed Immigrants.
Nevertheless, the ICE has remained undeterred by such protests before and even now there are very less chances of them being any lenient.
“If your business is operating legitimately, there’s nothing to fear. If you are hiring illegal aliens as a business model, we will identify you, arrest you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” said Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis.
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