Tuesday, January 23, 2007

24 Day Laborers Arrested in Baltimore Maryland

Two dozen people arrested on immigration charges at day-laborer site in Baltimore, MD


The Associated Press
January 24, 2007

Twenty-four people were arrested on immigration charges Tuesday morning after day laborers approached Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sitting in unmarked cars in a convenience store parking lot and asked them for work, ICE officials said.

Hispanic advocates quickly condemned the arrests, accusing ICE of targeting only day laborers who appeared to be of Latino descent.

The ICE agents did not plan to arrest anyone in the 7-Eleven parking lots, said Marc Raimondi, an ICE spokesman. Rather, they regrouped there after a targeted attempt to arrest people known to have been ordered to leave the country by immigration judges, he said.

“We don’t find that credible at all,” said Eliza Leighton, a spokeswoman for CASA of Maryland, which quickly sent representatives to the site after hearing about the arrests. “This is a place where day laborers often congregate. In our estimation, this is a clear example of ICE engaging in racial profiling.”

The 7-Eleven at the corner of South Broadway and East Lombard streets sits in the heart of southeast Baltimore’s Upper Fells Point neighborhood, which has a substantial Hispanic population. The city and CASA have attempted in recent years to set up a day laborer center in southeast Baltimore but have run into resistance from neighbors.

Mayor Sheila Dixon believes Tuesday’s arrests highlight the need for a designated day laborer site, said Anthony McCarthy, a spokesman for the mayor. The city is exploring several potential sites, said Rafael Regales, the mayor’s Hispanic liaison.

“It will protect potential employers and employees alike and really give the city and the people who are looking for resources an opportunity to do it in an environment that’s safe,” McCarthy said.

The ICE agents congregated in the parking lot after they didn’t find any of the illegal immigrants they were looking for at a nearby location, Raimondi said.

“Today’s operation was not planned, but nevertheless, when we encounter immigration status violators, our mandate is to enforce the law,” Raimondi said.

CASA of Maryland representatives, however, interviewed people who witnessed the arrests; including non-Hispanic day laborers who said the ICE agents ignored them. Witnesses also told CASA that the agents rounded up Latinos who happened to be walking by and demanded that they show identification.

“They focused on people who look like me,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA. “We believe that is unacceptable. It is discrimination.”

Asked to respond to those allegations, Raimondi said ICE agents acted in accordance with federal immigration laws.

According to ICE, six of those arrested had criminal records in the United States. Eight had been deported or ushered to the border to leave the country voluntarily, only to return. Two had been ordered to leave the country by immigration judges. And one had been caught six times trying to enter the United States from Mexico.

Ten of those arrested were from Honduras; eight were from Mexico; five were from El Salvador; and one was from Peru.

“Fugitive aliens and other immigration status violators flaunt our laws and threaten the integrity of the immigration system,” John Alderton, acting director of the ICE field office in Baltimore, said in a statement.

The day laborers admitted they were in the country illegally after they asked the ICE agents if they needed labor and the agents responded by asking them, in Spanish, where they were from, Raimondi said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a clear example of federal workers actually doing their job. They deserve great PRAISE not condemnation.

11:33 AM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous Paul said...

The other heartening thing is how this one action has evidently created such a stir throughout the area among illegals. It shows how a minimal amount of interior enforcement would go a long way to making Maryland an inhospitable place for illegals.

Those who say there's nothing we can do about the illegal alien problem are flat out wrong. Very simple actions can have a big impact -- if our government would only have the will to do them. Instead, our local government is controlled by real estate developers, restauranteurs, and others who benefit from illegals.

3:30 PM, January 26, 2007  

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