ICE releases workers arrested in Washington raid
The Associated Press
SEATTLE Many of the 28 workers arrested by immigration agents last month in a northwest Washington raid have been released and given permission to work, in another sign of how the Obama administration is handling illegal immigration differently than its predecessor.
The raid at a Yamato Engine Specialists plant in Bellingham was the first mass arrest of immigrants since President Barack Obama took office and appeared to contradict his policy that federal agents focus more on employers who hire undocumented workers than on the workers themselves. Shortly after the arrests, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a review of the raid.
The Bellingham Herald reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement gave the immigrants work permits or the option of returning to their native country.
Immigrants were released with documents advising them “that per the assistant United States attorney assigned to this case, all persons involved with the Yamato Engine Specialists … should be afforded the benefit of deferred action and an employment authorization document, valid for the duration of this case.”
ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the workers were released pending further investigation of the engine company and were given the option of work permits. She declined to comment further.
Rosalinda Guillen, executive director of the Bellingham-based immigration advocacy group Community to Community Development, said most of the workers are remaining in the area with their families, and that two were deported.
The workers were released Thursday, she said.
Guillen said workers are expecting more questioning from ICE agents, and may seek legal help.
Shirin Dhanani Makalai, Yamato’s administrative manager, declined to comment.
Workplace raids involving the arrests of hundreds of illegal immigrants at a time became almost routine in the last years of the Bush administration.