On July 6, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE) announced it had arrested the immigrant workers at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Contractors had employed the workers, who were then commissioned by the Air Force base.
Most of the workers were employed by Parsons Evergreene Corp, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based contractor that then hired them out, according to the NewStandard. An ICE statement alleged that the workers used counterfeit documents to obtain employment and that the bureau is not targeting the contractor in its investigation at this time. The arrests stemmed from a two-month investigation, the News & Observer reports.
Although there are thousands of illegal immigrants in North Carolina, the ICE is especially concerned about their presence in places that are considered "critical infrastructure" such as airports, nuclear power plants or military bases, according to the News & Observer.
All 48 workers were rounded up at the start of the workday. According to news reports and statements attributed to Allen McNeely, the head of the stateâ€™s Labor Departmentâ€™s Occupational Safety and Health office, ICE and cooperating law enforcement agencies lured the immigrants into a trap using flyers announcing a mandatory state OSHA meeting, says the NewStandard.
A reportedly outraged McNeely said that appropriating OSHAâ€™s name for the immigrant arrests would undermine efforts by the agency to reach out to the stateâ€™s most at-risk workers.
â€œWe are dealing with a population of workers who need to know about safety,â€ McNeely told the News & Observer. "Now they're going to identify us as entrappers."