CINCINNATI (Reuters) - U.S. immigration agents raided eight Mexican restaurants in northern Ohio on Wednesday and arrested 58 employees as part of a criminal operation against illegal immigrants, federal authorities said.
All those arrested were citizens of Mexico and working at Casa Fiesta, a chain of Mexican restaurants in Ashland, Fremont, Norwalk, Oberlin, Oregon, Sandusky, Vermillion and Youngstown, Ohio, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.
It said the raid was the culmination of more than a yearlong investigation.
Of the 58 arrested, 54 were men. Three of the four women were released on their own recognizance on humanitarian grounds, ICE said. They are still required to appear before a federal immigration judge who will determine whether they have a legal right to remain in the United States.
The raid was the latest targeting businesses employing illegal workers.
In May, ICE arrested more than 300 workers at Agriprocessors Inc, a kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. In August 2007, hundreds of workers at a Koch Foods chicken plant near Cincinnati were detained in raids, while hundreds more were detained in December 2006 after a raid at Swift & Co meat plants in six states.
ICE said it had made 949 criminal arrests in worksite-related raids since October 2007, including the arrests of 105 owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who face charges ranging from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens.
Immigration, specifically what do about 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, is a divisive national issue.
Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Peter Cooney