23 Immigrants Arrested in West Texas and New Mexico

On Monday, immigration officials announced that federal agents arrested 23 people on suspicion of being undocumented immigrants when notice of employment audits was served to more than 100 businesses in West Texas and New Mexico.

An email sent by Nina Pruneda, the regional spokeswoman for the agency, revealed that agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the arrests during the last week.

Three of those arrested are facing criminal charges connected to illegally re-entering the US following deportation, possession of firearms, or both. 68 of the audit notices were served on companies across 18 counties in West Texas. The companies were given no more than three days to provide employment records dealing with the immigration status of employees.

Employment interviews and audits can result in fines or even criminal charges. The worksite enforcement strategy pursued by the federal government aims to protect the jobs of American workers and other immigrants who have the legal right to work in the US by removing uncompetitive and unfair advantages for businesses hiring undocumented immigrants, as well as strengthening national security and public safety, according to Pruneda.

Community organizer, Johana Bencomo, slammed the audits. She called them an attempt to terrorize the community and people trying to make a living and support their families and said she is working alongside a local accountant to offer business owners and workers training on their rights during such audits.