IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) It's now been three days since federal agents arrested 32 suspected illegal immigrants at a business in Mount Pleasant. They face charges of administrative immigration violations. There's no word yet on what's next for them.
Federal agents raided Midwest Precast Concrete on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, taking 32 men into custody. Immigration & Customs Enforcement says the men are in the country illegally and came from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. (Marlon Hall/KCRG-TV9)
One lawyer told TV-9, it's still too early to tell, but the fact that ICE said it's a criminal investigation doesn't look good.
"I think there's a strong chance, since it's a criminal investigation, that they're going to be imposing sanctions either on the employer or potentially charging the employees with criminal violations related to immigration laws," said Immigration Lawyer Megan Lantz.
By criminal investigation, lawyers said it means they could be charged with posing with the identity of someone else, which is fraud.
But, screening still needs to occur to see whether they are victims of crimes, or have family members that are U.S citizens. Lantz said it could create more obstacles and make it harder for them to see their families, especially if it isn't their first offense.
Lantz did point out, there is a silver lining. In the Postville raid, many of the people had criminal charges filed against them within a day or two, something Lantz says she doesn't think has happened yet with the 32 men arrested.
"I don't have any clients arrested in the raid but I do have clients that called me from Mount Pleasant worried that they were going to be picked up even though they have legal status in the U.S. That just goes to show you what kind of fear these enforcement operations instill on our clients," said Lantz.
TV-9 did reach out to a few lawyers in Iowa City and Coralville that say they've been meeting with some of the families from Mount Pleasant. They've mentioned they've picked up their case pro-bono but won't say much else. The arrested men will still have to go through federal court proceedings.
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