SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on federal immigration arrests and audits in New Mexico and West Texas (all times local):
Federal immigration agents have arrested 23 people across New Mexico and west Texas on suspicion of being in the country illegally as they extend national efforts to prohibit businesses from hiring illegal workers.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Associated Press on Monday that agents had been serving notices of employment audits to 131 businesses across New Mexico and a swath of 18 counties in Texas over the past week when the arrests were made. Businesses are being given three days to provide hiring records that deal with employees’ immigration status.
Agency regional spokeswoman Nina Pruneda says three of the individuals face criminal charges related to illegal re-entry to the United States or firearm possession or both.
Immigrant rights advocates and local officials in New Mexico’s state capital city say that recent businesses inspections by federal immigration enforcement officials and additional detentions are sowing fear in the community.
Marcela Diaz of the immigrant-advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido on Monday said that at least six businesses in Santa Fe were hit with employment audits over the past week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Agency officials for the region had no immediate comment.
Diaz is not naming the businesses because audits are ongoing but described them as locally owned and not franchises. She also said four people were detained by immigration officials.
Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said the enforcement actions amount to bullying. Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia says students are anxious.