Washington County arrests come amid nationwide ICE crackdown - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Washington County arrests come amid nationwide ICE crackdown

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MILWAUKEE (WKOW) — The wife of a man arrested in Washington County Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents called for his release Friday during a news conference outside the Milwaukee ICE office.

Agustin Aguirre Villa was arrested at the farm in Washington County where he worked, according to a press release from the immigration advocacy group Voces de la Frontera.

ICE officials said the man was one of three taken into custody Friday, although a spokesperson said the arrests are not an effort to target ag workers.

The arrests come at a time of heightened anxiety in the immigrant community following Wednesday's ICE employment audits at 7-eleven stores nationwide.

The audits took place at about 100 7-Eleven stores in 17 states and the District of Columbia, a rolling operation that officials called the largest immigration action against an employer under Donald Trump’s presidency.

The employment audits and interviews with store workers could lead to criminal charges or fines. And they appeared to open a new front in Trump’s expansion of immigration enforcement, which has already brought a 40 percent increase in deportation arrests and pledges to spend billions of dollars on a border wall with Mexico.

A top official at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the audits were “the first of many” and “a harbinger of what’s to come” for employers.

“This is what we’re gearing up for this year and what you’re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters,” said Derek Benner, acting head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, which oversees cases against employers.

“It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry — big, medium and small,” he said.

After the inspections, officials plan to look at whether the cases warrant administrative action or criminal investigations, Benner told The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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