Immigration Car Wash Raid

by Ryan Campbell | August 18, 2013

ICE“We are… going after businesses that are a magnet for unauthorized workers,” said Andrew Munoz, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Munoz was explaining the events of Saturday, where 13 Danny’s Family car washes were hit in an all-day raid by ICE.

“Since 2009, ICE has kind of shifted its work site enforcement strategy so we focus now on the arrest of the employers and managers (and) supervisors rather than coming in with these large scale enforcement actions that focus solely on workers.” Said Amber Cargile, ICE spokeswoman.

While ICE was quick to point out that the raid was not the Joe Arpaio-style immigration raids to arrest and prosecute laborers that Maricopa County has become accustomed to, the workers at the car washes were still detained.  Immigrant and human rights activist Sal Reza of Tonatierra’s Barrio Defense Committees was highly critical of the raid.  Sal disagreed that there was any distinction between this immigration raid, and the kind of raids carried on by Joe Arpaio.

“The Obama administration going after employers is just another facet of the same thing that is happening with Arpaio” said Reza.  “The ones that are ultimately affected are the workers, because they’re left without a job.  Maybe they’re not going to go to jail immediately, maybe they’ll be released and their case closed administratively, or who knows, put them through deportation proceedings.  [The Obama administration] is still not fixing the problem, still not legalizing work, and still going after workers like they were prostitutes.  To me, it’s the same thing.”

Ironically, there is one large difference between Arpaio’s Criminal Employment Squad and this ICE raid: Arpaio does not target employers much, rounding up undocumented workers and holding them without bail for months on end while someone collects money to hold them.  This employer, Danny’s Family, had strong ties to the Maricopa Sheriff Office: they are a major sponsor of the MCSO Memorial Fund for fallen officers, and have helped law enforcement and fire departments raise $57,000, in addition to having a “Cop Coffee” program where officers received coffee for a quarter.

These raids place the Obama administration’s deportation policy in the spotlight as Congress returns to debate immigration, and will put more pressure on politics to come up with a solution.

As this case develops and Danny’s Family may be prosecuted, we will see what the consequences are for this large Phoenix business, as well as the further-reaching implications for the Phoenix community, and undocumented immigrant communities across the country.