Immigration raid yields 50 arrests
BALTIMORE ” Immigration agents arrested more than 50 people Thursday in raids on a temporary employment agency’s offices and places where it provided undocumented workers, including the port of Baltimore, authorities said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also seized a bank account containing more than $600,000 from the employment agency, Jones Industrial Network, which provides workers in the Baltimore area.
The agency’s offices and eight other businesses were searched, including three where the temp agency is suspected of providing undocumented workers, ICE said.
The investigation began last year after immigration officials heard that temp agencies had provided illegal immigrants as workers to the port of Baltimore and other unwitting employers, ICE said.
Having “illegal aliens working and having access to our ports is a major security vulnerability,” said ICE field office director Calvin McCormick.
The employment agency’s offices downtown near the Inner Harbor were closed Thursday, with a sign in English and Spanish saying the company would not be open.
An exact number of officials and temporary workers arrested was not immediately released. Jones officials were not arrested or charged, although ICE officials said their investigation continued.
Jones is the only company that has been targeted criminally, and all others involved in the raids have cooperated, ICE officials said.
A lawyer for sportswear maker Under Armour Inc., which was also raided, said the Baltimore company was not aware that employees were illegal immigrations.
The company has cooperated fully with the investigation, of which it is not a target, and it is considering legal action against the temp agency, general counsel Kevin Haley said.
“At Under Armour, we are patriots first and last, and we’re fully committed to compliance with all laws and regulations,” Haley said. “We’re furious that apparently one of the temp agencies we use was not so committed or gave the appearance of being not so committed.”
The workers were employed at the company’s distribution center, Haley said.
McCormick said 20 of those detained may qualify for humanitarian release. James Dinkins, ICE special agent in charge, said those detained were being transferred to three institutions in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Immigration officials said state and federal officials would interview the detainees to determine whether any medical, sole-caregiver or other issues would qualify them for humanitarian release. Relatives of the detainees can call a 24-hour toll-free hot line, 866-341-3858.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick this month urged federal authorities not to move out of that state any more factory workers detained in an immigration raid until their children were located and arrangements made for their care. More than 300 people were detained for possible deportation in a raid at a leather factory that makes equipment for the military.