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Burns & Gambo

Updated Aug 19, 2013 - 2:11 pm

Workers' families, advocates react to raids at Phoenix car-wash chain

PHOENIX -- When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided 16 Danny's Car Wash locations around the Valley over the weekend, they said they held 223 people for questioning.

Of those, 14 were placed under federal criminal arrest and 30 were taken into custody for deportation proceedings based on prior criminal and immigration histories.

Among the 30 is the husband of Laura Torres. Through a translator, standing in front of an ICE building, she said, "He told me that they were trying to make him sign a voluntary departure," she said in tears.

Her husband is no criminal, she said, but he had been deported before, several years ago. He returned to find work.

ICE said the raids were focused on the company and not individual workers, but immigrant rights advocates see it another way.

"The fact that is over 200 people were detained, that over 200 people had no idea how to contact their families and thirty people stayed in detention and to the community that looks exactly like a raid," said Tania Unzueta with the National Day Labor Organizing Network.

In a written statement, ICE said 179 people qualified for prosecutorial discretion under the agency's enforcement guidelines and were released from custody within hours of being interviewed.

The 14 defendants are expected to make their initial court appearance Monday afternoon.

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