Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gave notice Monday to an Arab restaurant in Dearborn that they want its employee records.
The visit by ICE on Monday to Hamido Restaurant, a business on Warren Avenue in the heart of Dearborn’s Arab-American community, unnerved the city’s Middle Eastern population amid fears of ICE raids.
According to an employee who spoke with the Free Press, ICE agents told a manager they wanted him to sign some forms, which he refused to sign. The ICE agents said they would return later, according to the employee.
“We didn’t want to sign the papers,” said the Hamido employee, who asked not to be identified. The ICE agents “said they were going to come back and get some more information.”
The agents targeting the Lebanese restaurant were with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, said ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls.
“Special agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) served an I-9 audit notice today at a Dearborn business,” Walls said. “A notice of inspection (NOI) informs business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether they are complying with existing law.”
Walls said that “no arrests were made as a result of today’s effort.”
A message left for the manager was not returned.
“HSI routinely conducts work site investigations in order to uphold federal law,” Walls said. “HSI’s work site enforcement strategy continues to address both employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers and the workers themselves. These routine efforts are ongoing and not related to other operational activity.”
The visit on Monday came the day after ICE was to conduct raids, according to President Donald Trump. There did not appear to be any significant raids on Sunday in metro Detroit.
Hamido Restaurant is on Warren Avenue, the main commercial strip in the eastern part of Dearborn that is known for its Arab restaurants and stores. Dearborn is more than 46% Arab American, many of whom are immigrants.
“The community needs to be on guard and they need to know their rights,” said Abed Ayoub, Legal and Policy Director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “The administration has made it clear: Everyone is on the radar for ICE raids, not just those with orders of final removal. We need to protect our community.”
Under Trump, ICE has said it will remove any immigrant without proper documentation; under Barack Obama, ICE focused on those with criminal records.
“They’re going after hardworking individuals,” Ayoub said. “They deserve their due process. They’re taking that away.”
Michigan has the second highest rate of ICE community arrests among all states in the U.S. with at least 100,000 undocumented immigrants, the Free Press recently reported.
Walls said that “HSI’s work site enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law. HSI’s work site enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices.
“HSI’s work site enforcement investigations often involve additional criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, document fraud, worker exploitation and/or substandard wage and working conditions.”
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