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Immigration officials arrest 150 workers in massive raid on Texas trailer manufacturer

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 8/29/2018
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Video by NBC News

Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 150 undocumented immigrants working at a Texas-based trailer company Tuesday in one of the largest workplace raids in the last 10 years.

The raid was part of an ongoing criminal Homeland Security Investigation into Load Trail, a trailer-manufacturing business in Sumner, Texas.

The investigation began when HSI received tips that the company had knowingly hired undocumented immigrants, and that the illegal workers were using fraudulent identification documents, ICE said in a press release.

“Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina Berger. “In addition, they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”

The administrative arrests were made as part of a joint enforcement action led by HSI — the federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.

Arrested parties will be interviewed and “all illegal aliens encountered will be fingerprinted and processed for removal from the United States,” the press release said.

Berger emphasized the scope of the raid.

“It’s a big deal. This is probably one of the larger, single-site worksite operations in the last 10 years,” she said.

© Charles Reed/ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement She said it could take months, or even years for the agency to complete its criminal investigation.

A criminal search warrant was issued but no criminal arrests were made Tuesday, Berger said.

“We are still collecting and vetting data,” she said, adding that “the administrative arrests are just one part of our criminal investigation.”

Berger insisted that significant planning went into the operation to make sure “the people we are administratively arresting are humanely treated or well-treated throughout the entire event.”

Load Trail was founded in 1996 and employs about 500 people on its 100-acre site, according to the company’s website.

An ICE report shows that in 2014, the company was fined $445,000 for hiring more than 179 unauthorized workers.

Dennis Perry, a current Load Trail employee, said armed agents moved in from “every corner” Tuesday.

“They drew their guns and told everyone to hit the ground,” he told The Dallas News.

He said some workers searched for cover and were tackled.

HSI set up a hotline for detainee’s family members to identify their detention location, status, and the removal process.

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