ICE arrests 280 at Texas firm, biggest immigration bust in a decade
More than 280 employees of a north Texas telecommunications repair company were arrested by federal immigration officials in the largest worksite operation in more than a decade, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit executed criminal search warrants Wednesday at CVE Technology Group and four related businesses. CVE is based in Allen, about 25 miles north of Dallas.
"The investigation is ongoing but we can disclose that this is the largest ICE worksite operation at one site in the last 10 years," said Katrina Berger, HSI Dallas Special Agent in Charge.
She said the agency began the investigation in January after receiving multiple tips that the company may have knowingly hired undocumented immigrants, many of whom were using fraudulent identification documents.
Wendy Armas, a Guatemalan national with two teen children, told NBCDFW.com she's worked at CVE since arriving in the United States five years ago. She said she was arrested and bused away before being released after promising to appear in court next month.
"The hardest thing was when the bus started taking off," she said. "There was a long moment of silence, people crying, people saying 'I’m going to leave this country and go back to my own.'"
All of those arrested will be interviewed by ICE staff to record any medical, sole-caregiver or other humanitarian situations, ICE said in a statement. Based on these interviews, ICE will determine if those arrested remain in custody or are considered for humanitarian release.
All, however, will be fingerprinted and processed for removal from the United States.
Many of the individuals employed at CVE were using fraudulent ID documents, ICE said.
"Unauthorized workers often use stolen IDs of legal U.S. workers, which can profoundly damage for years the identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life," the statement said.
ICE said its worksite investigations combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices. Worksite enforcement investigations often involve human smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, document fraud and worker exploitation, the agency said.“Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses," Berger said. “They take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”