Hispanic Community Challenging Yesterday's INS Raid

Hispanic Community Challenging Yesterday's INS Raid

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News Specialist Sam Penrod reportingLeaders of Utah's Hispanic community say INS agents overstepped their legal authority of a search warrant as they rounded up suspected undocumented workers.

But the INS is defending its actions and blames the employer for allowing illegals to work at the company.

The INS today says it arrested 120 people yesterday.

Many were either U.S. citizens or legal residents of this country who have now been released. But they question why they were targeted.

Just a handful of employees were back on the job today at Champion Safe.

Yesterday, INS agents served a search warrant for employment records and arrested 120 employees.

And today, the company's attorney was quick to call the raid illegal.

"There's no mention in that warrant of detaining any individuals at all so that's an issue we're going to address," says attorney Jose Silva.

Relatives of those arrested say they are getting little information about where their family members are being held.

"Right now we got the word she's in Salt Lake and she will be deported to Mexico tomorrow," says Monica Villalobos, whose sister-in-law was arrested.

Several workers arrested told us today immigration officials wouldn't listen to them when they tried to prove they were legal.

This man, who was born in Chicago, was detained for five hours before he was released.

"They said, 'no your I.D. won't work.' You need something else and I went home, they took me home and I showed them my birth certificate and they let me go," says Rolando Barajas.

The director of the Salt Lake INS office told Eyewitness News by phone today the mixups were very few.

Steve Branch blames the raid on Champion Safe's hiring practices that he says attracted undocumented workers.

The company's attorney believes the INS overstepped its authority and yesterday's raid boiled down to racial discrimination.

"If I wasn't in a suit, I could have been over here with the rest of the group, being handcuffed just because I guess I'm not the right color. I don't look American enough or something. A lot of those individuals are citizens or permanent residents and had every right to be here and every right to be working," Silva says.

Leaders of Utah's Hispanic population will be meeting tonight at the State Capitol with lawmakers and government officials to try and find a solution to dealing with undocumented workers, and end raids like yesterday's.

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