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Originally published Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 10:13 PM

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At least 21 held in immigration raid in Yakima

A federal investigation into document fraud results in the arrests of at least 21 people in immigration raids in Yakima.

Yakima Herald-Republic

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YAKIMA — At least 21 people were arrested Wednesday in a series of immigration raids in Yakima after a federal investigation into alleged document fraud, including counterfeit work-authorization cards.

About 70 federal agents and police officers raided homes and businesses across Yakima.

Late Wednesday, staff at the Yakima County jail reported 21 people — 12 men and nine women — had been brought in by federal agents for booking.

Andrew Munoz, a spokesman for Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle, a unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said more than 40 separate search and arrest warrants were served as part of the raids, executed after a federal grand jury issued secret indictments.

He declined to be more specific about locations and arrests, but he said the indictments stemmed from a lengthy investigation of document fraud, including counterfeit work-authorization cards.

A young mother who lives near the scene of one raid said she and her husband had recently noticed people coming and going from the house. Cars frequently park at the Central Assembly of God Church across the street as people visited the home, said the woman, who did not want to give her name.

She said she and her husband saw several unmarked law-enforcement vehicles at the house last Saturday, appearing as if they had pulled over another vehicle.

Munoz, the spokesman for Homeland Security, stressed that none of those arrested Wednesday were targeted “solely for deportation” because of their individual immigration status.

“These (arrests) are the result of criminal indictments by a federal grand jury,” not immigration violations, he said.

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