Throughout the Trump presidency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been under more scrutiny than usual. But amid calls from progressive Democrats for the government to abolish the agency entirely, its officers are still hard at work — and ICE conducted its biggest workplace raid in 10 years on Wednesday at a Texas facility that belongs to CVE Technology Group Inc.
ICE put out a news release announcing the raid of CVE Technology Group Inc., explaining that it was part of an ongoing investigation into the company. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) had been granted a search warrant after receiving numerous tips alleging that CVE was knowingly employing people without valid documents. In the end, ICE announced that HSI had arrested more than 280 people at CVE, all of whom were accused of working illegally.
“Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses,” said Katrina Berger, the special agent in charge for HSI Dallas, according to the press release. “In addition, they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”
Berger confirmed that "as far as immigration related arrests, this is the largest ICE worksite operation at one site in the last 10 years," according to Dallas' local NBC affiliate.
ICE took away the arrested employees in buses after completing the raid, according to NBC.
"The hardest thing was when the bus started taking off. It reversed out and then there was a long moment of silence, people crying, people saying, 'I’m going to leave this country and go back to my own,'” said Wendy Armas, one of the CVE employees who was arrested and later released, according to NBC. She reportedly has a court date set for May.
In previous administrations, limited resources led ICE to keep a much lower profile, mainly focusing on immigrants who were believed to be a security risk, according to BuzzFeed News. Arresting so many people at once, BuzzFeed reports, will strain a system that is already struggling to keep up with all the new cases coming in.
“This is not the kind of place where you’re going to find public safety threats or those threatening the integrity of the border," John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE under Obama, told BuzzFeed. "While I certainly support robust enforcement against employers who cheat, the focus of limited immigration resources on people who may not pose a public safety threat is a waste of resources.”
ICE will now interview the people who were arrested, keeping most in custody and temporarily releasing those with "humanitarian situations," NPR explains. Medical needs or a child to care for would qualify as reasons not to keep someone in custody — but even those who get to go home in the short term will still face court proceedings if they're found to be undocumented.
"In all cases, all illegal aliens encountered will be fingerprinted and processed for removal from the United States," ICE said in a statement, according to NPR.