Wednesday, June 25, 2008

East Houston workers detained in ICE raid

The games are in full swing again.

Federal immigration agents have detained at least 120 workers at an east Houston plant as they conduct a major raid to investigate allegations that the company is employing illegal immigrants.

The raid, involving 150 to 200 agents, was launched about 7 a.m. at Action Rags U.S.A, 1225 Port Houston, just north of the Houston Ship Channel.

Officials would not specify the information that led them to plan the raid, which is at least the second major immigration enforcement action in Houston by federal agents in recent months.

The sign at Action Rags includes the phrase ropa usada, Spanish for "used clothing." A number of companies in Houston buy and sell used clothing, much of which is cut up for use as industrial rags.

The agents are questioning workers to determine their immigration status, said Bob Rutt, special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement criminal office in Houston.

"We're trying to sort out who's who," he said.

Five detention vans have been brought to the plant to transport any workers whom agents decide to arrest.

Agents also are dealing with several "medical issues" that arose after the raid began, Rutt said without elaborating.

A black ambulance drove onto the property at 8:25 a.m.

Scores of ICE vehicles are parked at various spots at the plant, a numerous agents in body armor can be seen talking with workers and walking around the site.

Workers at an adjoining plant have gathered in a nearby lot and along railroad tracks to watch the events.

Houston police are providing perimeter security for the federal action.

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