ICE Agents Detain More Than Two Dozen People Doing Community Service in Texas

Ice detains over two dozen people doing community service
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Fort Worth, Texas detained more than two dozen people suspected of being unauthorized immigrants.

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According to authorities, 26 parolees were arrested Sunday morning as they performed community service.

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn told NBC5 that his office was part of the operation at the request of ICE officials.

"This was totally initiated by ICE," Waybourn told the news outlet. "They came to us and said, 'Listen, we reviewed the list (of names) and we suspect some of them are illegal aliens.' So we said, 'Whatever you need to do.'"

A photographer for NBC5 was at the scene when ICE officials arrived in a truck and two vans for the operation.

Hector Rivera, one of the parolees, told the news outlet that detainees were caught off-guard when the arrests took place.

“They were really nervous, ‘oh my God,’ ‘oh my kid’ and everything,” Rivera explained. “Some were saying ‘oh, we got to run.’”

Rivera also explained how many of them were desperate to reach out to their families. "One of the guys has a pen and we started writing phone numbers, 'hey, call my wife,' 'call my dad,' I said 'OK, don't worry, I'll do it.' That's the least I can do," he said.

ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok released a statement on Monday saying 23 of those arrested reported for community service to work off sentences for DWI convictions, while four were convicted of possessing a controlled substance.  

According to Waybourn, those detained were people convicted of misdemeanor or felonies, who were mistakenly released from jail.

The detainees were taken into custody to a federal detention center in Dallas.

Waybourn told NBC5 that all the families were notified about the arrest on Sunday and some could be released.  

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Still, the arrests on Sunday have caused an outrage among the Fort Worth community.

Anita Quinones, a local activist who tutors immigrant children, told Star-Telegram that “these individuals were following the law by showing up to do their community service” and, “in the act of doing the right thing, they were rounded up like cattle. No good deed goes unpunished.”