A recent weekend raid that brought in over 200 people has many questioning the relentless enforcement in states with a divided view on the immigration situation. The raids are expected to continue.
Federal agents arrested 11 managers and supervisors at an Arizona car-washing chain. They were held on charges of immigration fraud and related charges. Heavily armed agents arrived at the businesses and escorted workers out in handcuffs. 223 people were rounded up who are suspected in the U.S. illegally. 179 were able to be released after questioning as a new policy focuses on deporting only the most dangerous of criminals or those with records. Officials explain that workers who were on the carwash floor were not the target of the raid. Instead, they focused on those in charge and accused of running a scheme that included identity theft and financial improprieties such as “evading taxes on wages paid to the unauthorized workers.” “I want to make clear for the community that this was not an immigration-enforcement operation,” Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said outside one of the carwashes, in central Phoenix. “This was a criminal investigation.”
Many question the official’s motives for the raid and worry that this may create anti-immigrant sentiments in the area. However, officials say they are not targeting individual immigrants but instead investigating companies who are not following the law. Several immigration advocates stood outside the courthouse shouting for justice. While the owners of the carwash business were not immediately arrested, federal officials said that other similar raids are scheduled to happen in the future. A federal audit found that many of the employees were in the country illegally and once they were fired, they were re-hired under a different social security number. The workers are now facing deportation and are in ICE custody.
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