Paris protesters march in support of detained Load Trail workers, attorney speaks on current situation

LAMAR COUNTY, Tex. (KXII) -- About 150 people gathered for a protest held Sunday night in support of the undocumented workers from a Lamar County trailer manufacturing company.

The workers were arrested last Tuesday after federal immigration agents searched the facility.

Load Trail attorney Gene Besen said right now, they'll continue to help families who call the ICE detainee locator help hotline and ask families if they need help.

He said no official plans have been made since last week.

But that four years ago, the company took action when a similar situation happened.

154 Load Trail workers remain in custody after what federal authorities said was one of the largest operations of its kind in a decade.

Sunday night a Lamar County community rallied together

"It was like one big family, really. Everybody was friendly and everybody was concerned," said Paris civil rights activist Brenda Cherry.

She marched from a church to the fountain downtown, along with other protesters.

"It was just amazing. It was historic for Paris. We've had rallies here, but never an immigrant rally," Cherry said.

She said people chanted to bring separated families back together.

"I do realize it's against the law to hire people who are here without papers," Cherry said.

That's why Besen said the company stepped into help four years ago.

Load Trail paid a $445,000 settlement for hiring more than 179 illegal immigrants.

"In 2014, 2015, the company, you know, sought counsel to help address the situations that arose in the 2014 audit," Besen said.

He said the company helped employees with costs of legal fees…to help them become U.S. citizens.

If they asked for help, Load Trail would take an amount of money from their paychecks to go towards legal services.

Besen said this is not ongoing or something currently happening.

"We're here to support the families and those affected and will continue to do so," Besen said.

An ICE spokesperson said this is an ongoing criminal investigation, which he said in general, can take months.

Those who were arrested were taken to facilities in North Texas and Oklahoma.

They'll remain in custody depending on the status of their immigration cases.