Good work ICE

Shipley immigration raid raises hiring, workplace concerns

20 arrested in federal roundup

Employees face deportation; chain working with ICE

By JAMES PINKERTON and SUSAN CARROLL

Houston’s iconic Shipley Do-Nuts is known to generations of loyal customers for its sweet glazed pastries.

But Wednesday, the family-owned chain found itself in the spotlight of an emotional national issue when federal agents raided the company’s Houston headquarters and arrested 20 suspected illegal immigrants employed at the facility.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents — in a caravan of 50 vehicles, detention vans and an ambulance — swarmed Shipley’s office and warehouse complex on North Main Street at 5 a.m. A government helicopter circled overhead as the Shipley workers were led away in handcuffs to face civil charges of being in the country illegally.

The Houston bust took place at the same time ICE agents conducted raids of chicken processing plants in East Texas, Arkansas, Florida, West Virginia and Tennessee.

In all, 290 workers were arrested during raids at Texas-based Pilgrims Pride plants on suspicion of identify theft, document fraud and immigration violations, the agency said.

ICE officials released few details of the Shipley investigation, saying only that it would continue.

Employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers can face criminal charges and fines. The workers arrested Wednesday face deportation.

“It’s a worksite enforcement operation,” said Robert Rutt, agent in charge of Houston’s ICE office. “Our main focus is identifying the employers who hire illegal aliens.”

Shipley officials, who could be seen meeting with ICE agents at the plant, declined to comment.

“Shipley Do-Nuts is a family-owned and operated business with a 72-year history in the Houston area,” read a statement released Wednesday by the company, which has 190 stores in several states. “It makes every effort to comply with very complicated immigration laws, and is currently cooperating with authorities in an ongoing investigation. Shipley is deeply concerned for the well-being of its employees that are being detained and their families.”


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