Load Trail hiring after ICE raids, detains 160 employees

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SUMNER, Tex. (KXII) - Days after a Lamar County trailer business was raided by immigration agents, the company said they're moving forward and hiring new people.

Load Trail welder Brandon Connell's day Tuesday started out like usual--until he heard the yelling.

"I hear a banging on the trailer I'm building. I lift up my hood and there's six ICE agents around me," Connell said.

Connell said the armed ICE agents told them to drop their tools, get into a room and show documentation.

"Kinda picking us apart based on where we were born," Connell said.

160 people were bused away to detention centers in Oklahoma and North Texas.

Many of them, Connell's closest friends.

"One of my best friends, he's been here since he was two. He was moved here by his parents. Obviously he didn't choose to come over here," he said.

The company had to pay a fine four years ago for hiring 179 people in the county illegally.

ICE claims companies like Load Trail take jobs away from U.S. citizens.

But an attorney for Load Trail says that's not true.

"Most folks detained are skilled laborers making up to $40 an hour--That's above market pay."

Attorney Gene Besen said Load Trail pays based on productivity --- not citizenship.

"Everybody that came back to work at Load Trail went through another I-9 audit done by the company," Besen said. "The folks on our line have the proper paperwork."

Connell has been working for the company for four years and had nothing bad to say about it.

"They care about their people," Connell said. "How those people got hired, I don't know. But as far as for me working up there, it's always been good."

Besen tells us they could not comment on whether Load Trail knowingly hired undocumented immigrants.

He said nobody in management had been arrested but ICE tells us it's an ongoing criminal investigation.

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