Immigration agents have arrested nearly 300 people at a North Texas technology company in what authorities say is one of the largest enforcement actions of its kind in a decade.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says federal agents arrested 280 workers Wednesday at CVE Technology Group in Allen, a city about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Dallas.
The federal agency says the technology repair company employees were working in the United States illegally, but did not release details of who was detained.
ICE says it began auditing the employment document of workers at CVE Technology after receiving tips that the business was knowingly hiring people not authorized to work in the country.
CVE employee Yessenia Ponce described the raid as “crazy” to KERA News , and said people were screaming.
Hiring irregularities found during an audit of the company’s I-9 forms confirmed those tips. CVE hasn’t responded to media requests for comment.
Federal hiring laws require that employers have new hires fill out I-9 forms. The laws perform “necessary and common sense functions,” Berger said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“They ensure U.S. citizens and legal U.S. residents are hired for jobs in the U.S.,” Berger said. “They also ensure that illegal workers are not preyed upon or paid less than the going wage or otherwise coerced or cheated or subjected to unsafe working conditions without any means of complaint.”
Businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers “create an atmosphere poised for exploiting an illegal workforce,” Berger said.
CVE employee Yessenia Ponce was inside the building when agents arrived.
“Man, it was crazy,” she said. “We were working like a normal day. … We just heard screaming, you know, people screaming and stuff. We went out and an officer just said ‘follow my voice, follow my voice.’”
In the past year, North Texas has been the site of the two largest single-site workplace raids in the U.S. in the last decade.
Prior to Wednesday’s raid in Allen, the largest raid took took place in the small Northeast Texas town of Sumner at a trailer manufacturer, where 159 undocumented workers were arrested.