FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — Two undocumented workers are in custody tonight after being detained by ICE agents at Travis Air Force Base, where they were checking through security to do construction work.
A spokesperson at Travis Air Force Base says the arrests came following visitor protocol. They have every visitor show their ID and Social Security number at a security checkpoint.
A database showed the men were undocumented, so security called Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The co-workers arrived with their construction company to put up sheet rock at David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force base. But they never got to their work site.
“They knew they were going to a hospital but I don’t know if they realized the hospital was on a military base,” attorney Alisa Whitfield said.
Whitfield is now defending the men.
CBS13 obtained a photo of detainee Hugo Mejia –alongside his wife.
He and undocumented co-worker Rodrigo Nunez are married with three young children. Their families live in the Bay Area.
“Those children, they’ve been extremely depressed, unable to go to school, crying, asking about their father’s all the time,“ Whitfield said.
An ICE spokesperson said records show Mejia illegally entered the US after being deported in 2001 and Nunez entered illegally after being deported in 2001 and 2003.
Their attorney says neither have criminal records.
Professor Holly Cooper, Co-Director of the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic says the case is unusual because ICE officers don’t usually target law-abiding undocumented workers .
“But when they get a call from an Air Force base, they’re probably going to treat it a little more seriously, and come out for the investigation,” Cooper said.
An ICE spokesperson issued a statement reading, “it will be up to a judge with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to determine whether they will be subject to removal from the U.S.”
An Air Force base construction project leading two undocumented construction workers toward deportation.
Right now the men are being held separately in the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Facility in Elk Grove, and in the Yuba County jail.
Whifield plans to argue for “prosecutorial discretion,” pointing out that the men have lived in the U.S. for 10 years in good standing. She doesn’t know if she’ll get the chance.