PHOENIX, AZ – A two-year Federal investigation involving 13 Danny’s Family Car Washes and 3 other locations associated with HR Betty ended in a sweeping raid in Phoenix, Arizona Saturday.
Reports say out of the 223 workers who were rounded up, reports say 14 were arrested on criminal charges, 4 of which were US citizens and 10 were Mexican nationals.
Thirty workers were taken into custody by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) based on prior criminal and immigration histories and 179 were released under prosecutorial discretion but they may still face deportation in immigration court.
The raid is a “targeted” criminal law enforcement investigation conducted by the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) team involving alleged criminal immigration fraud, identity theft and financial violations, ICE press secretary, Barbara Gonzalez said.
”Today’s enforcement action was again focused solely on criminal charges, so we executed search and arrest warrants, there’s individuals that have been arrested criminally, “Gonzalez said.
“Our priority is clear on the criminal case and individuals that may be undocumented and a criminal history who present a threat to the community, those would be priorities not undocumented individuals that do not have criminal histories.”
It’s still not clear whether there were Filipino nationals involved in the targeted round up of undocumented workers.
“At this point i don’t have those details, again what I can tell you is that it’s so very recent... It’s gonna take a while for us to be able to give out specific information on individual cases," Gonzalez said.
Alfonso Marquez, a Hispanic who witnessed the raid, said he came to the car wash to help out some relatives.
"Some worker told us that there were around 60 people, they were workin’ ok, they were makin’ good money then the ICE just came and ambushed them," Marquez said.
ICE officials say those who have been arrested criminally will go before the Federal Magistrate on Monday and undocumented workers with criminal history will be placed in an undisclosed location for further investigation, but undocumented workers who do not have criminal history and are eligible under the deferred-action program were simply released.
ICE HSI officials declined to comment if there will be other future law enforcement actions similar to this one in Arizona or in other states but reiterated that this is a targeted law enforcement criminal investigation and not a random act.