GLENDALE, AZ - Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday set off another battle over what to do with illegal immigrants once they're detained, after a raid at a Glendale business.
MCSO deputies served a search warrant at United Construction Group Thursday morning looking for employees using fake identification to work at the company.
MCSO spokesman Jeff Sprong said the warrant was served near Northern and 67th avenues where the company employs 126 workers.
Seventeen workers were arrested, 15 on state charges of identity theft. But two other suspected illegal immigrants were picked up when they went to the construction business to apply for a job during the raid.
Sheriff's deputies called Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pick them up, and when they refused, Sheriff Arpaio ordered his deputies to drive the two suspected immigrants to the Border Patrol in Ajo, just north of the border.
"We work with the Border Patrol all the time and turn over illegal aliens, especially when we're doing the drug trafficking operations, so this is nothing to get around," Arpaio said. "This is just another alternative to make sure I don't let these people back on the streets, which I don't like doing."
ICE officials told ABC15 the two suspected illegal immigrants did not meet Homeland Security's enforcement priorities for deportation. However, a Border Patrol spokesman said they are in the process of deporting the two immigrants.
Arpaio said the other workers who were taken into custody will be charged with class four felonies. He also believes they are in the country illegally.
Arpaio said the company cooperated.
"The manager is cooperative so this is going to help us identify the people and get through our investigation," he said.
We talked to the owner off camera and he said he uses E-Verify to check all his employees.
Arpaio said the raid was the result of a tip that several employees were bragging that they were in the country illegally.
He said this was the 67th workplace raid conducted by his department with nearly 700 arrests made.