(UPI) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 114 suspected undocumented immigrants at an Ohio gardening business on Tuesday.
About 150 Homeland Security Special Agents, U.S. Border Patrol agents and members of the IRS acted on two federal search warrants to raid two Corso’s Flower and Garden Center locations in Sandusky and Castalia as part of one of the largest workplace raids in a decade.
Homeland Security in Ohio received tips about undocumented immigrants working at the business throughout the last 10 years and conducted an audit inspection within the last six months.
“When the audit results came back, we identified over 100 employees that had some sort of issue with the documents that were provided with their identities, such as duplicate social security numbers, social security numbers belonging to other U.S. persons, etc.,” Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security in Ohio Steve Francis said.
Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said one of the people arrested in the raid was released because he was a U.S. citizen and that his office has been working since Tuesday to assist those who remain in custody.
Head of HOLA, an Ohio Latino advocacy group, Veronica Dahlberg wrote on Facebook that most of the workers arrested in the raid were Mexican.
She added a witness said a man in civilian clothes came into the business with three boxes of donuts, announcing a company meeting at the start of the raid.
“As people gathered to listen, dozens of agents moved in shouting orders for U.S. citizens to line up on one side, and those ‘not born in the U.S.’ to line up on the other,” Dahlberg wrote. “After a long time, some were released who had papers, others were loaded on buses, including several U.S. citizen high school students, and taken to the Border Patrol station.”
Dahlberg also condemned the raid as a “major humanitarian crisis” which separated parents from their children.
“In some cases, both sets of parents were seized, and we know of many children left with babysitters, including babies and toddlers,” she wrote.
Brown said separating children from their parents is “immoral” and suggested law enforcement provide a path towards citizenship for those already in the country.
“Tearing families apart will not fix our broken immigration system,” Brown said. “It will mean more problems for all of us. There is no good reason, ever, to separate children from their parents.”
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