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US immigration agents eat, arrest 3 at Michigan restaurant

A small group stands outside of Sava's, located at 216 S. State St., in downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., after ICE agents detained three employees from the restaurant on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (Melanie Maxwell/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The owner of a Michigan restaurant said U.S. immigration agents who were conducting enforcement at the business ate breakfast — and complimented the chef — before arresting three workers, according to media reports on Thursday.

The Ann Arbor News and WJBK-TV reported the men arrested Wednesday at Sava’s Restaurant remain in custody. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said agents were doing “a targeted enforcement action” at the Ann Arbor restaurant.

ICE officials said two of the men entered the country illegally and another overstayed his visa. Authorities said the men tried to leave the restaurant before being arrested. Another man was handcuffed and briefly detained, then released after showing agents his permanent resident card.

Restaurant owner Sava Lelcaj told the newspaper several agents came to the restaurant near the University of Michigan, and two ate breakfast at the restaurant bar. One ate waffles and bacon and the other eggs and toast. Lelcaj said they praised the food before entering the kitchen area.

ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said in a statement the agency uses various techniques during enforcement but couldn’t comment on whether agents ate at the restaurant.

Lelcaj said her company vets employees to determine their eligibility and that she had believed they were in the country legally. She said she lived illegally in the U.S. in the 1980s, but became a citizen and now owns three restaurants.

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