ICE arrests 114 at Ohio gardening stores in one of the largest workplace raids in years
On June 4th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducted one of the biggest workplace raids under the Trump administration. They arrested 114 people suspected of entering the county illegally at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in Ohio.
More than 200 immigration officers surrounded two Ohio Corso’s Flower and Garden Center locations—one at Sandusky and the other at Castalia. Officers arrested and loaded 114 people onto buses to send to immigration detention centers. Many of the workers’ children were at daycare centers or with babysitters.
Similar workplace raids have taken place this year as part of the Trump administration’s focus on deterring the “illegal” immigration of undocumented Black and brown people and Muslims from entering America. Earlier this year, ICE raided 98 7-eleven stores across the nation that led to 21 arrests, and in April 97 immigrants were arrested in Tennessee at a meat factory.
Corso employee Salma Sabala told WNWO, “We’re on a barn, so we can’t escape. All I could think about is my mom, because I didn’t know where she was. And also my sister, because I didn’t know where my sister was, either. And everyone was just crying. It makes me really sad knowing that they’re going to take some people away.”
She shares that undercover ICE officers entered the break room and offered Dunkin Donuts. Sabala continues, “They’re armed. They had the dogs. We hear the helicopters on top of us. They took them on a big bus.”
As of now, no criminal charges have been made. However, the business’ employer is under investigation for their role in hiring potentially undocumented people. Khaalid Walls, an agency spokesman, said “a large volume of business documents” were collected.
Josie Gonzalez, a Los Angeles attorney on immigration and business responded to the raid saying, “Government is overreaching and trying to make a big splash, instill fear in the business community and immigrant communities and make the headlines. It’s a tremendous use of resources to accomplish that purpose.”
Steve Francis, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit in Detroit, tells the Associated Press that a “document vendor led investigators to the landscaping company, where they examined documents in its files for irregularities”
313 employees’ records were analyzed and 123 of them were suspicious. The 114 arrested are expected to lead to criminal charges of identity theft and tax evasion.
Workplace raids have become the main front for locating and targeting undocumented people. Immigration officers have demanded and increased audits of business companies to verify whether employees can legally work in the country. 1,360 employer audits were open between Oct. 1st and May 4th. After the nationwide sweep of the 97 7-Elevens, employer audits are now at 2,282, a 60% increase from the prior year.