BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Members of clergy in Buffalo announced Sunday they will provide support and shelter to workers detained last week after a federal raid of several Western New York Mexican restaurants.
The announcement was made at Trinity Episcopal Church on Delaware Avenue.
Representatives from multiple Buffalo churches said some of the workers are set to appear in immigration court this Tuesday. Their families may be at risk of being "torn apart," according to Drew Ludwig, the pastor of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. Children could be placed in foster care or social services.
"What we see is these are good, honest people who are trying to do the best for themselves and their families," Ludwig said. "And I do want to emphasize-- these are families that are tied up in this. Stable, together family units."
Ludwig said one worker came to the United States with a farm worker visa, anticipating a $10 dollar per hour job in Georgia. That job never materialized, however, and he moved to Buffalo near other members of his family. Now he has lost his housing after the raids-- and other workers have also lost the housing they relied upon from Mucino.
"It's scary," Ludwig said, "because an entire life has been turned upside down."
The federal investigation Tuesday focused on four Mexican restaurants owned by Sergio R. Mucino, 42: Don Tequila on Allen Street in Buffalo, El Agave on Union Road in Cheektowaga, Agave on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, and La Divina on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. In all, 25 people were arrested.
Mucino allegedly employed the workers illegally at the four establishments. Seven had been discovered illegally in the U.S. and deported at least once before, according to the federal investigation. It also found the workers were being paid under the table and without taxes.
Mucino, restaurant manager Jose Sanchez-Ocampo, 37, and Marguin Sanchez, 22, are all charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.
Sanchez-Ocampo, manager of Don Tequila and several other Mexican restaurants raided Tuesday, remained in jail Wednesday.
When he appeared in federal court Wednesday morning, his attorney Paul Dell said, "He's not a murder, rapist or a drug dealer -- he makes good tacos."
La Davina in Kenmore reopened Friday at 11 a.m.