Aug 19, 2013 No Comments ›› Jack Flash
PHOENIX - Fifteen people were arrested on criminal charges in weekend raids of a metro Phoenix car-wash chain and its staffing-service provider in a bust that federal immigration authorities say targets leaders of the two companies.
Five are U.S. citizens and 10 are Mexican nationals, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told ABC15.
Of the 10 Mexican nationals, seven are linked to the indictment and three are being prosecuted for federal deportation because they have multiple prior criminal and/or immigration histories, ICE said.
The raids Saturday at locations associated with Danny’s Family Car Wash and staffing-service firm HR Betty resulted in another 30 people being taken into custody for immigration processing because they had criminal convictions in their past or prior orders to leave the country.
And another 179 workers who had no criminal histories and no egregious immigration violations were released from custody.
Some of the people facing criminal charges will make initial court appearances Monday.
An attorney for the car wash company didn’t immediately return a call Monday.
A message left at HR Betty wasn’t immediately returned.
Excerpted from Fox News Latino: Federal immigration agents raided several branches of a car wash business in Phoenix, rounding up 223 workers as part of a two-year investigation into immigration fraud.
Federal agents on Saturday swarmed 16 locations of Danny’s Family Car Washing and the company’s staffing service provider, HR Betty.
The investigating agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the case targets the owners and leaders of the two businesses and that multiple people face charges of criminal immigration fraud, identity theft and financial violations. Fourteen people were arrested on criminal charges, four were U.S. citizens and 10 were Mexican nationals.
The majority of those who were detained, 179 people, were questioned and then released under prosecutorial discretion — meaning they were not arrested and jailed but still face deportation in immigration court.
Eric Falbe, general counsel for Danny’s Family Car Wash, says Sunday that the company is cooperating with investigators and declined further comment.
The agency said it was not targeting undocumented workers with no criminal background.
“As everyone here knows, we target employers, employers that aren’t playing by the rules. We don’t target the employees, we’re targeting the companies that are not playing by the rules,” said Barbara Gonzalez with ICE Homeland Security Investigations. “This was not an enforcement of targeting illegal immigration or illegal immigrants. It was a criminal investigation.”
Immigration activists condemned the raids – claiming hundreds of innocent people were rounded up like criminals.
“The agency … rounded up hundreds of workers, placing some in handcuffs,” activists with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Puente Arizona said in a statement Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Yesterday’s operation spread chaos, confusion and fear throughout the Phoenix area as family members went temporarily missing and word spread of ski-masked agents detaining car wash customers alongside workers across the city,” according to the statement. Keep reading