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Lancaster County business owner speaks out after ICE crackdown

EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, P.A. --- Doug Bragg, owner of Living Stones masonry was on a job Wednesday when his phone started blowing up.

Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents came to Pitney road and questioned workers.

Bragg said between 20-25 workers were stopped by ICE agents.

When it was all said and done, he said seven sub-contractors were transported to the York County Prison.

"It's been really, really, really tough...Just emotionally because they're such a good, honest, hard-working people that want to do the right thing," said Bragg.

Bragg said there was no prior notice from ICE.

Confusion is setting in as Bragg said the workers were verified with W-9 forms and they had Taxpayer Identification Numbers.

"We have to do background checks and stuff just to hire them and submit that to the government so their paperwork was all in order for all of them. That's why it's like, whats going on here?" said Bragg.

Troy Mattes, an immigration attorney who met families of the detained workers Wednesday, said helieves ICE saw latino names on Living Stones Masonry's W-9 form and zeroed in.

"They went to verify through the I-9s and they get there and say 'Hey, I want to see, this, this, these people...Let me see all your work cards, let me see your visas...You don't have them? Come with us, come with us, come with us and that's what it turns out to be," said Mattes.

In year's past, Mattes said immigration crackdowns have been based on a three-tier priority system based on a scale of criminal actions by individuals.

For example, violent offenders were the highest priority, absconders second, and misdemeanor crimes last.

Now, he said the difference is the Trump Administration views anyone who is in the U.S. illegally as a priority.

Mattes said his office is used to meeting with one or two detainees on a given week.

This week, he said they've met with 15 people detained from central Pennsylvania.

A trend he said is "unprecedented."

"You're dealing with the wives, the kids, the families who are all freaked out and don't know what the status is not only for their family member, but for themselves," said Mattes.

Bragg said he believes both sides of the immigration debate need to find common ground to help people who, he feels, deserve it.

"Laws are created to help good people. Laws shouldn't be created to hurt good people," said Bragg.

FOX 43 News reached out to ICE officials but have yet to receive a response.

Mattes says the detainees have several options going forward: they should be eligible to ask for bond from an immigration judge.

If they have a Prior Order of Deportation, he said they would have few options.

Also, he said attorneys can file a suppression and argue the crackdown methods for probable cause.