Il­le­gals ask wrong peo­ple in van about work: ICE agents on break

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Natasha Al­tami­rano

BAL­TI­MORE — Fed­eral agents takingabreak­fro­ma­nun­re­latedas­sign­ment on Jan. 23 ar­rested 24 il­le­gal aliens at a Fells Point 7-Eleven af­ter the men at­tempted to so­licit “un­der­ground” em­ploy­ment from the agents.

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agents were stopped in the con­ve­nience store park­ing lot when the group of His­panic men ap­proached the agents’ un­marked ve­hi­cles, ICE spokesman Marc Rai­mondi said.

Of­fi­cials said “sev­eral” agents wereap­proached,but­they­de­clined to say how many. The agents, mem­bers of an ICE fugi­tive op­er­a­tions team­con­ductingamis­sion­tar­get­ing il­le­gal aliens, de­ter­mined that all 24 men as­sem­bled at the store were il­le­gal aliens and brought them to an ICE hold­ing fa­cil­ity in Bal­ti­more, Mr. Rai­mondi said.

“Fugi­tive aliens and other im­mi­gra­tion-sta­tus vi­o­la­tors [flout] our lawsandthreat­en­thein­tegri­ty­ofour im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem,” said John Al­der­man, act­ing di­rec­tor of ICE’s Bal­ti­more­field­of­fice.“AlthoughICE con­ducts tar­geted en­force­ment ac­tions,wewil­l­notig­nor­eim­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions we en­counter dur­ing the course of do­ing busi­ness.”

Of those ar­rested, 10 were Hon­duran, eight were Mex­i­can, five were Sal­vado­ran and one was Peru­vian, ICE of­fi­cials said.

Six of the men have crim­i­nal records in the United States, eight of the men have failed to com­ply with fi­nal re­moval or­ders from an im­mi­gra­tion judge and one man had been caught at the border on four oc­ca­sions, ICE of­fi­cials said.

The non­profit im­mi­grant-ad­vo­cacy group CASA of Mary­land called the ar­rests an “il­le­gal raid” that was be­yond ICE’s author­ity.

“Ask­ing a bunch of peo­ple about their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus is well be­yond the con­fines of a spe­cific war­rant,” CASA spokes­woman Kim Pro­peack said.

The­groupor­ga­nizeda­press­con- fer­ence on Jan. 23 in front of the 7Eleve­natSouthBroad­wayandEast Lom­bard streets, where the ar­rests oc­curred. CASA of­fi­cials in­vited oth­er­im­mi­grantad­vo­cate­sand­faith lead­ers to protest the ar­rests, which theysayun­fair­ly­tar­get­edHis­pan­ics, and call for re­forms to the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem.

“We’re­makin­git­mored­if­fi­cult­for peo­ple to be good,” said the Rev. Robert Wo­jtek, pas­tor of neigh­bor­ing St. Michael and St. Pa­trick Ro­manCatholic­parishes.“Whatsin against God have th­ese peo­ple done?”

A spokes­woman for Bal­ti­more Mayor Sheila Dixon told the As­so­ci­ated Press that the ar­rests high­lighted the need for a des­ig­nated day-la­borer cen­ter in the city.

The Fells Point neigh­bor­hood his­tor­i­cally has been home to im­mi­grants who came to the United States legally, in­clud­ing a large num­ber from Poland.

The fugi­tive op­er­a­tions pro­gram is part of the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land­Se­cu­rity’sSe­cureBorder Ini­tia­tive, which aims to tighten border con­trols and re­move il­le­gal aliens from the coun­try. ICE re­moved more than 190,000 il­le­gal aliens last year, in­clud­ing more than 90,000 with crim­i­nal records.

Nancy Pas­tor / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Un­clear who the il­le­gals are: From left, Wal­ter Gon­za­lez of Nicaragua, Jorge Sanchez of El Sal­vador, Car­los Aguilar of Gu­atemala and Irene Munez showed sup­port as the im­mi­grant-ac­tivist group CASA de­nounced an “il­le­gal raid” in Bal­ti­more that re­sulted in 24 ar­rests.

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