- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

U.S. Immigration officials said yesterday that 21 of the 69 suspected illegal aliens arrested in Baltimore during an employment-agency raid have been released for “humanitarian reasons.”

Marc Raimondi, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said some of those released are sole caretakers of children, but still are in the deportation process.

“They still have to comply with a judge’s orders,” Mr. Raimondi said. He also said those released will be monitored through electronic bracelets and telephone check-ins.

Officials did not know the immigration status of the children of the 69 arrested Thursday, including the 21 released, and said whether the children will remain in the country will be resolved by an immigration judge if the children are in the country illegally and by the parents if the children were born in the U.S.

“If a parent is ordered removed by an immigration judge, then it’s up to that parent to decide what they want,” Mr. Raimondi said.

The other 48 suspected illegal aliens arrested are being held at three detention facilities in Maryland and Pennsylvania in the wake of raids of the Jones Industrial Network temporary employment agency and eight business with which it contracted. Sportswear maker Under Armour Inc. and the Port of Baltimore were among the companies.

Immigration officials said Jones Industrial Network is the only target of the criminal investigation.

The high-profile sting is the latest in a recent series that have targeted employers of illegal aliens since ICE was established in 2003.

The number of criminal arrests in work-site enforcement operations has increased from 25 in fiscal 2002 to 716 in fiscal 2006. The numbers include employers and illegal aliens, ICE said.

The number of administrative arrests — illegal aliens arrested for unlawful presence in the United States — in work-site enforcement operations has increased from 485 to 3,667 over the same period, ICE said.

“Our history of work-site enforcement … has gone across the spectrum from small family restaurants to some of the largest corporations in the country,” Mr. Raimondi said.

ICE’s work-site enforcement operations are part of the agency’s “multilayered” approach, Mr. Raimondi said.

Immigration officials also target producers of fraudulent identification and other documents, organizations that falsify benefits claims and fugitive aliens who evade deportation, he said.

Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, commended ICE’s raids targeting employers, but said officials must enforce all violations — the high-profile and the “mundane.”

Mr. Camarota compared ICE’s approach to police officers targeting major crimes while ignoring petty ones.

“You need to go after the murderers, robbers and rapists — that’s really important,” he said. “But if you neglect the mundane work, you get a general contempt for the rule of law across the board. It feeds a culture of corruption.”

Mr. Camarota also said the focus should be on deterring people from breaking the law, not catching every lawbreaker.

“You don’t have to catch everyone, but once you make getting caught a real possibility, you make a difference,” he said.

CASA of Maryland, an immigrant-advocacy group, decries ICE’S tactics, saying they split families.

Chris Newman, legal program director for the California-based National Day Labor Organizing Network, said federal officials must address labor rights separately from immigration enforcement.

Mr. Newman cited as one possibility whistleblower protections for illegal aliens who report labor violations.

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