Wednesday, September 24, 2008

21 illegal immigrant workers arrested on Maui (Maui News)

21 illegal immigrant workers arrested on Maui
POSTED: September 24, 2008

Federal agents arrested 21 illegal immigrant workers early Monday morning at a Honokowai condominium construction site, the second such raid at the same site in a little more than a month, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The arrests were for "administrative immigration violations," particularly for entering the country without authorization, said agency Special Agent in Charge Wayne Wills.

The workers were at the Honua Kai project site where 23 alien workers from three different companies were taken into custody on Aug. 20.

Those arrested then included 13 employed by Global Stone Inc., officials said.

All those arrested Tuesday worked for Global Stone, which Wills said was operated by a number of the arrested men.

Prompted by complaints about illegal workers, the raids are part of a continuing investigation. Federal agents received cooperation from LEDCOR Hawaii, the project's general contractor, and they were assisted by the Maui Police Department. LEDCOR gave agents consent to enter the construction site.

"We are troubled by the fact that we continued to receive reports about unauthorized aliens working for Global Stone Inc. despite prior enforcement actions," said Wills.

Monday's "operation is part of ICE's ongoing efforts to target employers and employees who violate our nation's hiring laws.

"ICE will use every enforcement and investigative tool against employees and employers who fail to heed our warnings."

Hawaii U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said he was "deeply troubled by what seems to be the same companies repeatedly employing undocumented workers in our state.

"I know they feel that they can just plead ignorance about the status of their employees. But I strongly advise them to think again, because if there is enough evidence, we will aggressively pursue all available remedies."

The arrested workers - all men - included 12 from Mexico, eight from Brazil and one from Slovakia.

All were taken to a federal detention center in Honolulu where they face deportation proceedings.

Kyle Chock, executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership, faulted unethical contractors for the immigration violations.

"We don't begrudge the workers who come to this country in search of an opportunity to better themselves and their families, as Hawaii itself has an immigrant history," Chock said.

"But we are extremely concerned about employers who disregard the social and economical consequences they have on Hawaii's economy and the workers they employ."

Pacific Resource Partnership is a consortium of labor unions and development corporations formed to promote interests of developers who use union labor in Hawaii.

While commending federal immigration agents for their work, "we are deeply bothered by those employers who have repeatedly demonstrated their total lack of respect for the law by continuing to use subcontractors on their projects who persist in hiring illegal aliens," Chock said.
Global Stone obtained a Hawaii contractor's license on Aug. 13, just a week before the first raid that collared its employees.

It is registered as a business along with Blackrock Stone & Tile Co. with an address at a condo in Kahana, but state business records do not show the names of any of its principals.

Tuesday's raid was the latest in a series on illegal immigrant workplaces and homes this year.

In July, federal agents arrested 43 illegal immigrant farm workers in Waipahu during a raid on an apartment complex.

In May, immigration agents arrested 22 suspected illegal immigrant workers at two chain restaurants on Maui.

A few months before that, immigration officials arrested 19 foreign nationals on immigration charges at a downtown Honolulu construction site and a Halawa warehouse.

No comments: