Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided a lumber and wood products manufacturing plant in Madison this week, arresting 14 people suspected of being in the country illegally, the agency said.

ICE took 11 men from Mexico and three men from Guatemala into custody following the operation at D&D Industries Wednesday afternoon. The plant, which describes itself as a pallet supplier, employs about 30 people.

According to a statement, all 14 people "remain in ICE custody pending the disposition of their immigration cases." 

The immigration enforcement agency, which used helicopters during the raid, did not provide more information beyond its statement. ICE did not say if any owners or supervisors were under investigation.

As news of the operation spread Wednesday, immigrant advocates scrambled to provide legal aid to those detained as well as reach out to the families of those taken into custody.

On Thursday morning, attorneys with the Immigrant Legal Center had spoken with at least some of those arrested at the Douglas County Detention Center in Omaha, according to Dawn Bashara, communications and development coordinator with the Immigrant Legal Center.

It wasn't immediately clear if all 14 men were being held at that facility. ICE did not say where the men were being detained.

Bashara said the nonprofit Immigrant Legal Center provides free legal representation to immigrants arrested in and outside workplace operations.

Other organizations were working to provide assistance to the families of those arrested, including Nebraska Appleseed, ACLU of Nebraska, the Center for Rural Affairs and Heartland Workers Center.

Katherine Lopez, communications coordinator for Centro Hispano, a nonprofit human rights organization with an office in Columbus, said the organization is working with the families of those arrested -- including children -- to see that their needs are being met.

Centro Hispano is ready to assist the community in whatever way it can, Lopez added: "This raid has impacted the livelihood of not only the families but of the Madison community."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.


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