US immigration enforcement officers have arrested 114 people in a massive workplace raid that is one of the largest since Donald Trump began his presidency.
Workers at two northern Ohio garden centres were detained in what officials said was a disciplined and coordinated effort by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, who surrounded the businesses before rounding up the individuals. They were later taken into custody.
A spokesman for ICE said an investigation into the Corso’s Flower and Garden Centre locations started in October of last year, and that the company is currently being investigated for a variety of charges related to the hiring of workers who are not authorised to be employed in the United States. The stores were located in the towns of Sandusky and Castalia, located about 50 miles from Cleveland.
“If your business is operating legitimately, there’s nothing to fear,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis said in a statement provided to The Independent. “If you are hiring illegal aliens as a business model, we will identify you, arrest you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
The ICE spokesperson said that it was not immediately clear what charges the workers who were detained would face, as the large number meant that it would take a while to process all of the cases.
Since Mr Trump became president, ICE has overseen a massive increase in the number of immigration workplace raids to try and arrest undocumented workers they argue are taking up positions that should be filled by immigrants who have gone through the legal process to work in the US, or by American workers themselves.
Between October of last year and May, for instance, the agency conducted 3,410 “workplace inspections” — double that of the rate during the entire fiscal year preceding that, when 1,716 of the operations were conducted.
Advocates say that the raids put a heavy burden on the communities, tearing breadwinners away from their families and putting strains on families who have lived in the US for decades and who may not have a strong connection to the countries where they are legally citizens.
Just two months ago, a raid at an eastern Tennessee slaughterhouse saw 97 people detained, leaving the small, rural community without a good number of workers. Since then, the community has had to help one another, and some of the families directly impacted by the raids have been forced to rely upon financial aid from a nearby church to make ends meet and keep their homes.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies