by Melissa Cruz
The scene outside a technology repair company in Allen, Texas on April 3, was bleak. In the aftermath of an immigration raid, family members gathered to make phone calls, connect with attorneys, and give support to the workers arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that afternoon.
ICE agents arrested more than 280 employees suspected of working at CVE Technology Group without authorization.
The agency reportedly began the investigation in January 2019 after receiving tips that the company may have knowingly hired immigrants without permission to work in the United States.
ICE has not confirmed whether they arrested any CVE employers or managers during the raid. Overwhelmingly, ICE data shows that workers—not employers—are most often the targets of worksite enforcement under the Trump administration.
What happened during the immigration raid?
Immigration agents stormed the company the morning of April 3. According to people at the scene, agents divided up the hundreds of workers based on their legal status.
Workers with proper documentation stood together and were given green wristbands to wear.
The employees—mostly women—had varied reactions. Some screamed when they saw the agents; but by the time they were separated by status, many had fallen silent. “Standing, no talking. Ladies crying,” one employee said.
Buses from a private prison facility waited for workers outside of the company. Family members, including children, who had been alerted to the raid also stood nearby.
One worker, a Guatemalan woman with two teenage children, started at the company five years ago. She was released after spending hours in ICE custody with directions to appear in court.
She said: “The hardest thing was when the bus started taking off. There was a long moment of silence, people crying….”
What will happen to the immigrant workers?
ICE claims that it will interview everyone who was arrested during the raid. If it follows procedures, the agency will make note of any “humanitarian situations,” such as whether the arrested worker is a sole-caregiver of a child or has special medical needs.
Based on the outcome of the interviews, the agency is supposed to decide whether someone remains in custody or can be considered for “humanitarian release.”
Every single person, however, will still get fingerprinted and processed for removal from the United States.
How will this raid potentially affect the local economy?
With over 2,000 employees, CVE is the third-largest employer in Allen, Texas.
Losing about 15 percent of their staff due to the raid could have a detrimental effect on the business and the town.
Local economies often suffer after massive immigration raids. Postville, Iowa—the site of the largest immigration raid in the country—got thrown into an economic crisis after ICE raided the town’s meatpacking plant. Businesses picked up and moved and residents foreclosed their homes.
Decades later, Postville and the surrounding towns still feel the damage. The economy never fully recovered and the remaining workforce is shrinking.
Worksite enforcement raids ignore the needs of the communities they target. They devastate local economies, rip long-time residents away from their families, and traumatize the community and its remaining residents.
Melissa Cruz is the Communications Associate at the American Immigration Council.
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