Workers Detained in ICE Raid

The raid occured at Action Rags USA, in the 1200 block of Port Houston, just north of the Ship Channel. Greg Palmore is with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He says about 200 agents were involved.

"We've have an ongoing investigation for more than a year involving Action Rags USA. The company was gracious enough to shut down for us for a period of time so we could execute the search warrant, and individuals are being processed inside to determine their alienage. Typically in work sites similar to this right here, we encounter individuals that have more than one alias. In fact, I've seen in upwards of 17 different aliases. It's important for us not only to determine who they are, but it's also important to determine what country they're from."

ICE vehicles were stationed around the facility, which processes rags for industrial use. They're to be used to transport the workers to the detention center if they could not prove their legal status. Many of the workers are women, including two aunts of Louis Patino.

"I don't really think it's right, what they do, you know? Most of these jobs, you know, they're all minimum wage jobs, and they're jobs that other people don't want to do. The majority of the people in there don't have papers. Both of my aunts, they have kids here. They're here by themselves and, we dont mind but, we're looking after their kids while they get deported or, whatever ends up happening. So if anybody is to blame, it's the employer? Yeah, it's the employer's fault for hiring them."

The alleged illegals are said to be from various countries including Guatemala. Julio Fong is Houston consul general.

"We got a call from the Washington embassy of Guatemala today, saying that this raid was taking place and, that is why we came over here to see that they have not been mistreated, or anything like that, especially since we don't know how much time this is going to take. 'The red tape that's involved...is it all worth it?' We've never really been in agreement with all the raids that take place, especially since these people just come over here to work. We know there's been a lot of argument that people have been taking theft identity and all that. It's an issue that really sometimes employers really don't look it."

One ICE official says while no one from management has been arrested, the agency is conducting a criminal investigation into the company's hiring practices.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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