Yesterday's arrests, which are part of an ongoing ICE investigation, represent the second time in about a month that ICE agents have encountered illegal alien workers at the Honua Kai construction site. On August 20, agents arrested 23 aliens from three different companies, including 13 illegal aliens working for Global Stone Inc. When agents returned yesterday they received consent to enter the construction site and coordinated their efforts with LEDCOR Hawaii, the general contractor for the Honua Kai project. ICE agents received assistance in yesterday's operation from the Maui Police Department.
"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 Wayne Wills, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Hawaii. "Yesterday's operation is part of ICE's ongoing efforts to target employers and employees who violate our nation's laws. ICE will use every enforcement and investigative tool against employees and employers who fail to heed to our warnings."
"I am deeply troubled by what seems to be the same companies repeatedly employing undocumented workers in our State," said U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo. "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 to address this issue."
The 21 aliens taken into custody yesterday, all males, were from Mexico (12); Brazil (8); and Slovakia (1). All of the individuals have been placed in immigration removal proceedings.
Since its establishment in 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in this country. ICE's comprehensive strategy for worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security and public safety, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards.
Thus far in fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through August 30, 2008), ICE has made 1,070 criminal arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations. Of those, 123 involve owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who face charges ranging from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens.
In addition to the criminal arrests, ICE has made more than 4,700 administrative arrests for immigration violations during worksite investigations in that same time frame. Last year, ICE made more than 4,900 arrests in worksite enforcement cases, including 863 involving criminal violations.
Last year's figure represents a 45-fold increase in criminal worksite arrests compared to fiscal year 2001. Furthermore, in fiscal year 2007, ICE obtained more than $31 million in criminal fines, restitutions and civil judgments as a result of worksite related enforcement actions.
To help employers build a legal workforce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has an initiative called the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers or IMAGE. IMAGE is designed to build cooperative relationships between the government and businesses, strengthen hiring practices, and reduce the unlawful employment of illegal aliens. The initiative also seeks to gain greater industry compliance and corporate due diligence through enhanced training and education of employers. ICE strongly encourages employers to review IMAGE program materials available at www.ICE.gov.