PHOENIX - UPDATE: Indictments from an investigation into Danny's Family Car Wash and its staffing-service provider revealed Monday the company helped illegal workers seek fake identification: http://on.abc15.com/13Nh6kv
Fifteen people were arrested on criminal charges in weekend raids of a metro Phoenix car-wash chain and its staffing-service provider in a bust that federal immigration authorities say targets leaders of the two companies.
Five are U.S. citizens and 10 are Mexican nationals, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told ABC15.
Of the 10 Mexican nationals, seven are linked to the indictment and three are being prosecuted for federal deportation because they have multiple prior criminal and/or immigration histories, ICE said.
The raids Saturday at locations associated with Danny's Family Car Wash and staffing-service firm HR Betty resulted in another 30 people being taken into custody for immigration processing because they had criminal convictions in their past or prior orders to leave the country.
And another 179 workers who had no criminal histories and no egregious immigration violations were released from custody.
Some of the people facing criminal charges will make initial court appearances Monday.
An attorney for the car wash company didn't immediately return a call Monday.
A message left at HR Betty wasn't immediately returned.
The approach focuses on auditing employment eligibility documents and making criminal cases against company officials. The focus on criminal cases was made after federal authorities concluded that some violators viewed the previous strategy of seeking only civil penalties as the cost of doing business.
About a third of the 432 people arrested nationally since Oct. 1 in Immigration and Customs Enforcement's worksite enforcement cases were managers.
By contrast, the workplace raids by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office have led to several hundred employees who are living in the U.S. illegally being arrested on criminal ID theft charges under a state law that aims to crack down on illegal hiring. The sheriff's office says it tries to build cases against employers, but only two businesses have had their business licenses suspended since the law took effect in 2008.
Immigrant rights advocates who rallied outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office near downtown Phoenix on Monday said the workers were only trying to work to support their families and called for the release of workers who are in custody in immigration cases.
Laura Porren said her husband, Juan Carlos Reynosa, remains in federal immigration custody after he was picked up in the raid. "What I'm asking from immigration (authorities) is to let him go," said Porren, crying as she made her plea. "He is not a criminal. All he wants to do is work for his family."