HONOLULU - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 22 illegal alien workers on administrative immigration violations yesterday during separate enforcement actions involving three outlets of two popular chain restaurants on the island of Maui.
ICE agents took eight foreign national workers into custody at the Cheeseburger Island Style and Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants in Wailea and Lahaina as well as 14 illegal aliens who were employed by the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Lahaina. The arrests are part of separate ongoing investigations by ICE.
All of those taken into custody are foreign nationals from Mexico. The individuals were photographed, fingerprinted and processed by ICE. They were also interviewed by ICE agents to elicit information about possible health, caregiver or other humanitarian issues, and to identify any urgent medical needs. The information aids ICE in making decisions about whether to detain an individual or permit a conditional humanitarian release.
"The lure of employment is one of the most significant factors fueling illegal immigration," said Wayne Wills, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Honolulu. â€œEvery job held by an illegal alien is a job taken from a U.S. citizen or legal resident of this area."
As a result of those interviews, 20 of the illegal alien workers encountered during the enforcement action are being detained. The group includes 14 men and six women. They have been transferred to the Federal Detention Center, Honolulu. The remaining illegal workers, two men, were processed and released under supervision on humanitarian grounds, pending future immigration proceedings.
ICE has set up a local phone number family members of those arrested can call to get information about their relatives' detention status and the removal process. The phone number is: (808) 541-2623, Option 2.
ICE has received assistance with the case from the Department of Public Safety - Sheriff's Department, the Maui Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Hawaii Army National Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Attorney's Office. 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.
In fiscal year 2007, ICE made more than 4,900 arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations, including 863 involving criminal violations. That represents a 45-fold increase in criminal worksite arrests compared to fiscal year 2001. In addition, ICE obtained more than $31 million in criminal fines, restitutions and civil judgments in fiscal year 2007 as a result of worksite- related enforcement actions.