19 Are Arrested In Monte Vista

19 are arrested in ICE raid in Monte Vista

The employees of a potato farm and processing plant were being held on immigration violations.

By Elizabeth Aguilera
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 04/17/2007 11:21:29 PM MDT

Immigration agents raided a potato farm and processing plant in Monte Vista on Tuesday and arrested 19 workers on immigration violations.

The raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement left community members scrambling to check on families, said Flora Archuleta, executive director of the San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center.

“We are going to have to deal with this because it's going to affect families,” she said. “They are just terrorized right now – they don't know what to do.”

A tip about the farm, Worley & McCullough Inc., led ICE to investigate and raid the location, said Carl Rusnok, ICE spokesman.

ICE agents interviewed approximately 70 workers at the potato farm and arrested 17 workers from Mexico and two from Guatemala.

“Anyone who is in the United States illegally runs the risk of being identified and ultimately deported,” said Jeffrey Copp, special agent in charge of the Denver ICE office.

Two women were conditionally released for humanitarian reasons, said Rusnok. That can include medical issues or being the sole caregiver to children.

“These actions do not resolve the root causes of migration to the United States, but further polarize how immigrants are perceived and treated,” said Julien Ross, coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. “This is a disturbing indictment of our nation's priorities as many immigrant families await federal legislation that might potentially allow them to adjust their immigration status in the United States.”

Immigrant advocates from Denver and the Mexican consul traveled to the San Luis Valley late Tuesday. Vigils were held in Alamosa and Denver.

“There have been immigration raids all over the state and we knew it was just a matter of time before they came here,” Archuleta said. “We tried to prepare the best we could but you are never really prepared.”

Staff writer Elizabeth Aguilera can be reached at 303-954-1372 or at eaguilera@ denverpost.com.