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