March 26th, 2008 13:53 EST
34 Illegal workers arrested at MIA
MEMPHIS, TN-- Thirty-four illegal alien workers were arrested at the Memphis International Airport Tuesday morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents in an ongoing criminal worksite investigation.
The illegal workers, 34 men, were employed by various contractors and subcontractors building the new National Guard Air Base in Memphis, Tenn. ICE made the arrests at the Memphis International Airport while conducting a gate check at the worksite location.
ICE recently initiated this investigation after receiving information from the United States Air Force, Office of Special Investigations that illegal aliens were believed to be employed there.
All those arrested are being processed at ICE's Detention and Removal Office, Memphis facility. They will be placed into deportation proceedings for violating U.S. immigration laws. All arrested in this operation claimed that they were from Mexico and were illegally in the United States.
"ICE aggressively enforces our nation's immigration laws, which includes focusing on the workplace," said Michael A. Holt, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans. "We are significantly enhancing our worksite enforcement efforts as part of our interior immigration enforcement strategy." Holt oversees a five-state region that includes: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.
During fiscal year 2007, ICE arrested 863 individuals on criminal charges in worksite investigations, and administratively apprehended another 4,077 illegal workers on immigration violations. These arrests have increased significantly when compared to the 160 criminal arrests and 685 administrative arrests ICE made in fiscal year 2004.
Since it was created in March 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat illegal aliens unlawfully working in the United States. ICE's comprehensive strategy for effective worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security, protecting critical infrastructure, including airports and ensuring fair labor standards.
To help employers ensure that they are building a legal workforce through voluntary partnerships with the government, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a new initiative called the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers or "IMAGE." IMAGE is designed to build cooperative relationships between government and businesses, to strengthen hiring practices, and to reduce unlawfully employing illegal aliens. The initiative also seeks to accomplish greater industry compliance and corporate due diligence through enhanced federal training and education of employers. ICE strongly encourages employers to review IMAGE program materials available at www.ICE.gov.