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Witnesses: ICE arrived at dawn and surprised immigrant workers

Sanford.- The hundreds of workers of the company Bear Creek Arsenal in Sanford, who were getting ready to finish the long day of night and those who entered the morning shift, were surprised by the unexpected arrival of agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) that initiated a major raids reported in North Carolina. It was close to five in the morning and nothing could be done. Around 70 undocumented immigrants were arrested.

The agents, according to witnesses, entered directly to the part where the weapons are stamped. “I work in the part of the consumer service and they did not come in. Why did that part have protection and not the rest of the company?” Said Que Pasa, a worker who did not want to be identified and who stressed that there was a request of the company not to give information about what happened.

“The most painful thing is that they took our friends, people who leave in the morning, leave their children at the stop and come to work … now who will pick up those children today?” Said another worker who broke in tears. “It’s not people who are on the street doing bad things, they are workers who fight for their families.”

The arms manufacturing company Bear Creek Arsenal, whose previous name was Moore Machine, is located in an industrial zone that moves the economy of Lee County. It has an area of ​​340 thousand square feet and employs more than 250 people, a large percentage of them, Hispanic immigrants.

On Tuesday morning, friends and family reported to Qué Pasa about the presence of ICE in the factory.

“Many of our friends are there … they have sent us text messages where they tell us they are separating those who do not have papers,” Sergio Jiménez said in a telephone call to Qué Pasa.

Another person who came into contact with this medium authorized the publication of a photograph taken by one of the workers of the factory. In it you can see an agent with a vest that says Police HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) and some employees sitting in the rest area of ​​the factory.

“They still have them in the break room and they let us leave unless they have an ID,” said one of the people in contact with Qué Pasa.

They denied him freedom

The immigration lawyer, Chris Barns, told Qué Pasa that one of his clients of Salvadoran origin is among the detainees in the factory.

“She was arrested at five in the morning and was allowed to call me in. I explained to the ICE agent that she has a four-year-old girl, an American citizen, with a medical condition that requires her mother’s attention. that there was a grandmother who took care of her to continue doing so, since my clients allegedly committed the crime of using false identity and that she would remain detained. ”

An opposite case occurred with a worker of Honduran origin, who approached the Catholic Church, ST. Stephen, after being released by ICE.

On Wednesday, the church will hold a community meeting to provide support and legal assistance to the families of the detainees.

Investigation for fraud

In a statement sent to the press, the company Bear Creek indicated it was an investigation for identity theft.

“Today there were several employees who were detained by the police This is the result of an investigation carried out by Homeland Security on the employment obtained for identity theft or fraudulent information.”

“Bear Creek Arsenal has cooperated with National Security during this long process, Homeland Security confirmed that our Human Resources Department had complied with all laws, rules and regulations in our recruitment practice.”

Participation of the sheriff

In a Facebook post, County Sheriff Lee confirmed that his office collaborated in the operation due to a “federal request”.

“An operation was carried out by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency of the United States (ICE) in a local manufacturing company, which was the result of an ongoing investigation into identity theft and fraud,” the sheriff said. “The Sheriff’s Office did help with this operation today at the request of federal officials, there were approximately 30 individuals detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents and it is not known how long they will be detained by the Customs and Immigration Service. of these individuals.

“What I want to convey to residents of Lee County is that this was not a random operation conducted by ICE in Lee County, this was the result of an ongoing investigation by Immigration and Customs and isolated in one place” .

Although the sheriff indicates that only 30 detainees were reported, witnesses assure that around 70 people were taken into custody. “They were much more than 30, it was a long line of detainees,” said a worker who requested anonymity.

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