The arrest of nearly 300 people at a Dallas-area technology company was one of the largest enforcement actions of its kind in a decade and punctuates the push by the Trump administration to target companies employing people who federal authorities say are not authorized to be in the U.S.
About 200 law enforcement officials descended Wednesday on CVE Technology Group in Allen, a city about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Dallas. The technology repair company was employing people working in the United States illegally, according to federal authorities, who did not release details on the approximately 280 people who were taken away on buses. Each will face deportation proceedings.
ICE said in a statement that it began auditing CVE employment documents after receiving tips that the business was knowingly hiring people not authorized to work in the country. Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE, began an audit in January of CVE records that confirmed hiring irregularities, according to the statement.
“Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses,” ICE agent Katrina Berger said. “In addition, they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”
But family members of CVE workers who were arrested say the raid was a heavy-handed tactic against people simply working to provide for their families.
Valerie Trevino told The Dallas Morning News that her mother, Graciela Velazquez, moved from Mexico 25 years ago and has worked for the company for years. Trevino said her mom doesn’t have a criminal record
“It’s insane to just get people who are working to make a living,” she said. “They’ve done nothing wrong besides work. My mom’s worked her entire life here. So other than that, I mean what really is her crime?”
The busts are reminiscent of aggressive tactics taken during President George W. Bush’s administration, which pursued criminal investigations against employers in its final years with dramatic shows of force and large numbers of arrests. In 2008, agents arrived by helicopter at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained nearly 400 workers. Last June, more than 100 workers at an Ohio gardening and landscaping company were arrested. Other raids have occurred in Minnesota, Nebraska and elsewhere.
Under President Barack Obama, the government focused more on employer audits, more than doubling those actions, to root out illegal hiring
Attorney Gene Besen represents a Texas company that was the focus of a federal raid in August where 160 workers were arrested. Federal authorities at the time touted it as the largest such enforcement action in the U.S. in the last 10 years, now eclipsed by Wednesday’s raid.
“There’s a large portion of the workforce in Texas that’s undocumented, particularly in industrial jobs,” he said.