O’Neill residents hold protest after immigration raid targets businesses in Nebraska, Minnesota

O’Neill residents hold protest after immigration raid targets businesses in Nebraska, Minnesota

O’NEILL – A protest, featuring speeches and singing of patriotic songs, broke out in O’Neill around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon after a large federal law enforcement operation targeted businesses in the north-central Nebraska town of 3,631 people.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid was part of an operation in both Nebraska and Minnesota that saw 14 business owners and managers and 130 workers arrested.

Officials say these businesses knowingly hired and mistreated immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

Homeland Security Investigations special agent Tracy Cormier described the operation as one of the largest in its 15-year history.

Cormier says the focus of the operation was on businesses that knowingly offered for hire immigrants in the country illegally to other businesses, such as farms, meat processors, grain companies and restaurants.

Owners and operators of those businesses that hired the immigrants were also targeted for arrest.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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