Federal agents arrested more than 150 suspected undocumented immigrants Tuesday at a North Texas travel manufacturer.
“With those numbers this is one of the larger worksite enforcement operations conducted at one site in the past 10 years,” said Katrina Berger, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Dallas office.
The people who were arrested are all employees of Load Trail, LLC, according to Agent Berger, of Sumner, Texas, near Paris. Load Trail manufactures pull-behind trailers.
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Load Trail issued the following statement Wednesday morning:
"Load Trail is a family-owned business, which has been a pillar of the northeast Texas community for over 20 years. The company employs over 700 people, and has supported our community through a broad range of charitable causes. Load Trail always works diligently to abide by all laws.
The actions today by the Federal Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) are disappointing, as are the inaccuracies found in most reporting so far. Though we are surprised by today's developments, we intend to fully cooperate with the government's investigation — and to make sure the full and accurate Load Trail story is made known."
Although the suspected undocumented immigrants were arrested and removed from the scene Tuesday, the focus of the investigation is Load Trail, Agent Berger said. As of her announcement Tuesday, no criminal charges had yet been filed against the employer.
The workers were loaded into motor coaches and taken for processing and immigration hearings in Dallas, Austin and Oklahoma City, according to a woman whose father was among those arrested.
Yareli Mendoza raced to the Load Trail location on Tuesday when she received word that ICE was there and rounding up employees. Mendoza waited frantically along the fence line, helicopters circling overhead, looking for any sign of or word from her father. It never came.
“And all the lawyers I’ve been trying to call and reach out to have just told me to sit there. And it is hard to just sit there when my father, when I know my father is not going to be home,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza’s voice wavered when she described the reaction from her younger brother, age 8, when he realized something was wrong.
“He saw the news and he has been asking, ‘Isn’t that where my dad works?’ And we said, ‘Yes, something is going on with the factory.’ And he said, ‘OK, where is daddy? Why isn’t he home yet? And we said, we had to be strong for him, and we told him that his job sent him to Dallas to go work. And he said, ‘OK that’s fine, but when is he coming home? Is he going to be gone for too long?’”