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Undocumented immigrants provide “modern-day slave labor”

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Jan. 28, 2008 (AP): U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe said federal immigration agents and local police in northwest Arkansas have only gone after employers who flout the law and exploit undocumented immigrant workers.

``They are modern-day slave labor,'' Balfe said after a recent raid on a chain of Mexican restaurants.

In recent years, Balfe acknowledged it may appear that officials are targeting Latinos. However, he stressed his office has been involved in other cases involving employers hiring undocumented immigrants from Asia and Czechoslovakia.

``We've had a breadth and depth of cases here that are of various nationalities and ethnicities of the owners and the employees,'' Balfe said. ``Obviously the most significant illegal alien problem we have in the Western District of Arkansas involves illegal aliens from México.”

Latino leaders in northwest Arkansas have protested raids on Acambaro Mexican Restaurants and García’s Distribution Co. in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. Prosecutors said 23 people in all were arrested in the raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Court documents indicate that alleged unlawful activities involved in the case included identity theft, possession and use of counterfeit identity documents, employment-eligibility verification fraud and money laundering.

Balfe said the prosecutions also help undocumented immigrants, as they often work without overtime pay, aren't afforded the right to unionize or fear filing grievances against employers.

``People who are purposefully evading the law are the ones that we are going after,'' Balfe said. ``We don't go after anyone who's used a good-faith basis. No one has been prosecuted for trying to do what's right, trying to follow the law.''

Information from: The Morning News, http://www.nwaonline.net/






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