Immigration officials conducted workplace employment audits on more than 100 businesses in West Texas and New Mexico over the past week. The audits resulted in the arrest of 23 illegal immigrants. Agents arrested some in possession of firearms and had records of illegal re-entry after removal.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carried out workplace audits in parts of New Mexico and West Texas during the past week. The immigration officials arrested 23 people who are suspected of being illegally present in the U.S., according to information provided to Breitbart Texas by ICE spokesperson Nina Pruneda.
ICE reported that three of those arrested face federal prosecution for illegal re-entry after removal and/or firearms possession. Federal law prohibits an illegal immigrant from owning or possessing a firearm.
The arrests came as agents served notices of inspection (NOI), also referred to as I-9 audit notices, to 63 employers in New Mexico and 68 in West Texas. The employers have three days from the NOI to produce the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 for inspection.
Pruneda said that ICE Deputy Director Tom Homan called for stepping-up workplace enforcement. This directive calls for more investigations by HSI agents and more I-9 audits. The goal of the effort is to protect jobs for American workers and those legal immigrants who are eligible to work.
“ICE’s worksite enforcement strategy is focused on protecting jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthening public safety and national security,” Pruneda stated.
Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales opposed the effort to protect jobs for Americans and legal immigrants, the Washington Post reported. “It absolutely disrupts people’s lives and the harmony of the city,” Mayor Gonzales stated. He went on to accuse the Trump Administration of bullying.
Officials have not identified the businesses that received the NOIs. If the businesses are found to be in violation of employment eligibility laws they will be required to cease the illegal activities. They also could face criminal prosecution and/or civil penalties ranging from $375 to $16,000 per violation, according to ICE’s fact sheet on I-9 audits.