CLEVELAND - Special agents with U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today administratively arrested 58 restaurant employees on immigration violations after executing federal search warrants at eight Casa Fiesta restaurants throughout northern Ohio.
Casa Fiesta is a chain of Mexican restaurants located in Ashland, Fremont, Norwalk, Oberlin, Oregon, Sandusky, Vermillion, and Youngstown, Ohio. This worksite enforcement operation was the culmination of more than a yearlong investigation.
"ICE criminal worksite enforcement investigations unfold in multiple stages," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit. "Executing criminal search warrants and administratively arresting unauthorized workers is just one step in the investigative process." Moskowitz oversees the States of Ohio and Michigan.
The individuals arrested during this July 23 operation are all citizens of Mexico. Everyone detained is being medically screened and interviewed by ICE agents to determine if they have medical, sole-caregiver, or other humanitarian issues. Of the 58 administratively arrested, 54 were men, and four were women. Three of the women were released on their own recognizance on humanitarian grounds. However, they are still required to appear before a federal immigration judge who will ultimately determine whether they have a legal right to remain in the United States.
ICE has established a local telephone number for family members to find out more information about the detention status of those arrested today. Family members may call: 216-535-0510. ICE has also notified local community groups and the Mexico consular office about the operation.
Since its establishment in 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in this country. ICE's comprehensive strategy for worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security and public safety, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards. So far in fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through July 12, 2008), ICE has made 949 criminal arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations. Of those, 105 involve owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who face charges ranging from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. In addition to the criminal arrests, ICE has made more than 3,500 administrative arrests for immigration violations during worksite investigations in that same time frame. Last year, ICE made more than 4,900 arrests in worksite enforcement cases, including 863 involving criminal violations. Furthermore, in fiscal year 2007, ICE obtained more than $31 million in criminal fines, restitutions and civil judgments as a result of worksite related enforcement actions.
This remains an ongoing investigation.