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ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Federal officials have taken nearly a third of the employees of an Asheville company into custody as part of an operation to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.The 59 people are employees of Mills Manufacturing Corporation, a government contractor that makes parachutes for the U.S. military.U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Ivan L. Ortiz-Delgado said that detentions are part of a targeted investigation.
Ortiz-Delgado said that Mills Manufacturing is not a target of the investigation and has been fully cooperative. The 59 workers who have been detained are out of a total company workforce of 175, Ortiz-Delgado said.In all the case so far, the workers detained used fraudulent documents, ICE officials said."It's incredibly frustrating as an employer," company CEO John Oswald told WYFF News 4's Myra Ruiz. "We do everything the law permits us to do without being accused of discrimination."Oswald said that the company would require two forms of identification before hiring employees, as specified for the federal I-9 form.Most of the people detained are from Mexico, but others are from Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras and El Salvador.About half of the people detained were released for humanitarian reasons, ICE said. Those reason include child care and medical situations.The rest are being held at the Henderson County Detention Center. The county has an agreement with ICE to process and hold people accused of immigration violations.Oswald said that the company shut down its operations on Tuesday."The whole thing is pretty traumatic," Oswald said. "We can't expect people to go about business as usual after what has just happened."The company plans to continue operations but will adjust its delivery schedule, Oswald said.
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