WAIPAHU, Hawaii - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents executed nine federal search warrants yesterday morning at a Waipahu apartment complex, arresting 43 aliens employed by The Farms, on administrative immigration violations.
The search warrants, which remains under seal because the investigation is ongoing, were executed at the Oasis Apartments, located in Waipahu. ICE agents were assisted by the U.S. Marshals Service, Sheriff's Department-State of Hawaii and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service.
In conjunction with yesterday's search, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii is determining whether to file criminal charges in cases where evidence suggests the aliens provided fraudulent information in order to obtain employment
"Yesterday's enforcement action is part of ICE's ongoing pursuit of employers who violate our nation's hiring laws," said Wayne Wills, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Honolulu. "ICE will use every tool at its disposal to target businesses that exploit an illegal workforce to turn a profit."
"I applaud the enforcement that was conducted by ICE agents, with the assistance of our law enforcement partners," said U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo. "This investigation reveals how importantly we take these matters. We will continue to aggressively fight this growing issue in Hawaii, which deprives our citizens of job opportunities."
The 43 aliens taken into custody were all males and citizens of Mexico. Immigration removal proceedings have been initiated in all 43 cases.
ICE has set up a hotline for family members and friends of the illegal workers arrested in yesterday's operation to address questions about detention status and the removal process. The phone number is 808-864-0095.
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 July 11, 2008), ICE has made 937 criminal arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations. Of those, 99 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 3,500 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.
Editor's Note: ICE Honolulu Special Agent in Charge Wayne Wills will be available for telephonic interviews this afternoon. Please call 808-532-3746.