- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

From combined dispatches

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said yesterday that it no longer will set up fake workplace safety meetings to apprehend illegal aliens.

“[T]he use of ruses involving health and safety programs administered by a private entity or a federal, state or local government agency for the purpose of immigration work-site enforcement has been discontinued by ICE,” the agency said.

The move is a response to complaints from state and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials after the arrests of 50 undocumented contractors during a sting last year at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.

A spokesman for OSHA said the raid angered North Carolina officials. North Carolina is one of 22 states that operate their own OSHA offices.

“Our position has been since last summer that we did not agree with that tactic. It undermines the credibility of the department and what we are trying to do with our community outreach, especially to the Hispanic community, to foster a safe and healthy workplace,” the OSHA official said.

A Homeland Security Department official said that although stings related to OSHA will be discontinued, “all other ICE sting operations will continue.”

Investigators have uncovered illegal aliens working at sensitive nuclear plants and military bases, including the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“Ruses are used every day, but our goal is to get everyone in one room, and with all of the F-14s out there, we didn’t want to chase them all over the base,” one ICE official said of the Seymour Johnson raid.

“The mistake was that we did not cooperate with OSHA, and that got them very upset.”

Allen McNeely, head of the state Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Division, told the Raleigh News and Observer that workers were lured by a flier announcing a mandatory OSHA meeting.

Mr. McNeely said the ruse eroded the state’s efforts to reach out to its thousands of foreign workers, especially those in construction, because they are among the most likely to be killed or injured at work.


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