Over the weekend in Arizona, ICE systematically raided 16 car washes associated with two companies and arrested 223 immigrants.
A spokeswoman from ICE went out of her way to emphasize that the raids followed a targeted investigation into businesses that were hiring the immigrant workers, not the workers themselves, unlike the worksite raids commonly conducted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The Phoenix New Times wrote that of the 223 individuals detained:
- 14 (including four US citizens) were placed under federal criminal arrest
- 30 were taken into custody for deportation proceedings, based on prior criminal and/or immigration histories. It’s noteworthy that under Obama administration guidelines, immigrants can be slapped with a criminal history for as little as driving without a license.
- 179 individuals qualified for prosecutorial discretion and were released from custody within hours of being interviewed.
Activist Sal Reza of Barrio Defense Committees was critical of the raid, saying: “Maybe they’re not going to go to jail immediately, maybe they’ll be released and their case closed administratively, or who knows, put through deportations proceedings. [The Obama administration] is still not fixing the problem, still not legalizing work, and still going after workers like they were prostitutes. To me, it’s the same thing.”
One of the carwash companies that was raided, the Danny’s Family Car Wash chain, is the biggest supporter of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Memorial Fund, which benefits the families of fallen deputies. Rumors have swirled for years that Sheriff Arpaio’s office deliberately ignored suspicions of employment activity at those carwashes while targeting others for alleged immigration violations.