From [HERE] A local business owner verified Monday that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested two local men last week during investigations of Hispanic-owned businesses in Raleigh County. ICE officials were not immediately available for comment Monday evening.
Two employees at El Mariachi in Beaver were detained by ICE last week, according to El Mariachi owner Jose Rizo.
Rizo said one of the men has been in the United States for 20 years.
At least one of the workers is married to an American woman and is the sole provider for his wife and two children, according to workers' statements.
Rizo said he's hired immigration attorneys to advise the employees.
American Civil Liberties Union-West Virginia attorneys reported Monday that the number of ICE raids of Hispanic-owned businesses in the state have increased dramatically over the past three weeks.
"Until recently, I'd never heard of raids on any work place here in West Virginia," said Jaime Crofts, ACLU attorney. "Over the last three to four weeks, I have heard of several raids being conducted at Mexican restaurants in the state."
Crofts said the ACLU will become involved in the cases if Constitutional rights of the workers are an issue.
"Non-citizens have Constitutional rights," Crofts said. "People who are undocumented in the United States still have due process rights, so nobody can be deported without due process.
"A raid is only legal if ICE already has some sort of evidence that people who are here are undocumented, and they know who those people are," she said.
Croft said she has not been contacted by anyone from Raleigh County and could not comment on the local cases, specifically.
According to a worker at one local Mexican restaurant, ICE agents told one Beckley business last week that they were looking only for employees who were wanted for criminal offenses.
It was unclear Monday if the two arrested workers had past criminal records.
Workers in at least two Hispanic-owned restaurants in Beckley were questioned in recent weeks, according to workers' statements. Rizo said he has personal knowledge that Hispanic-owned businesses in Fairmont have also been targeted.
Rizo noted that few Mexican entrepreneurs want to talk about ICE raids, because it isn't good for business and upsets families.
ICE agents did not immediately return calls Monday evening.
A trooper with the West Virginia State Police Beckley detachment said Monday evening that his agency did not participate in the reported ICE raids.
It was unclear Monday evening if the Raleigh County Sheriff's Office had participated.