Thursday, October 2, 2008

Aftermath of Immigration Raid in Wayne County (WROC-Rochester, NY)

Aftermath of Immigration Raid in Wayne County

Reported by: Meghan Backus

Thursday, Oct 2, 2008 @02:10pm EST

Farmers in our area rely heavily on immigrant workers to keep their farms running. But more and more, customs agents are cracking down on people who are here illegally.

Last weekend, 20 people were arrested in the Sodus area. According to a representative from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agents were after at least two fugitives. In the process, they found and arrested other alleged illegal immigrants.

People who live in a trailer park in Sodus say one of the raids took place there around 6 a.m. Sunday. One woman spoke to us through an interpreter and asked that her identity be concealed.

“When I came out of my bedroom, they were inside my house,” she said.

The woman says the agents went into her bedroom without permission. She says she and her two daughters watched in fear.

“That's when they found my husband inside the room, and they took him out and took him.”

She says her husband is in jail now. He's been in the United States to work for five years and has been detained more than once. The woman admits she's here illegally from Mexico, but she takes the risk to support her family.

"I'm just here to work,” she said. “That's why I came here."

“They're absolutely critical for us not just this time of year in the fall for harvest, but at other times in the year,” said Mark James, who heads the farm bureau for the Finger Lakes region.

He does support the hiring of illegal workers, but he says there must be an easier process to allow migrant workers to work on local farms.

“We need a temporary guest worker program which would allow people to come through here in a streamline process,” he said.

That program could mean no more raids similar to the one last weekend.

“We are just humans like they are. Just here to work. We are not here to be criminals,” said an immigrant farm worker.

A representative from Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has increased the number of its fugitive operations teams from 52 in 2006 to 95 in 2008. He says they do have warrants to go into the homes where fugitives are believed to be. If they find someone else in the home to be an illegal immigrant, he says they are able to arrest that person as well.

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