Sunday, May 23, 1999

Illegal worker cases are low priority for INS

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) concentrates on arresting and deporting aliens who have committed aggravated felonies. Being an illegal worker isn't as serious an offense, according to the INS.

        An example of an aggravated felon who attracts INS attention is convicted sex offender Ian Waddup, the 37-year-old British national sentenced to jail time in April for contributing to the delinquency of a 15-year-old Hamilton girl he met via the Internet.

        Another INS focus is criminal organizations engaged in smuggling of illegal workers, including vendors who provide counterfeit immigration documents.

        Setting priorities doesn't mean raids on work sites will necessarily stop, but in Cincinnati, where three INS field agents cover 26 southern Ohio counties, there's little time for random checks.

        “We don't just come knock on your door,” said Patrick Elersic, officer in charge of the INS office in Cincinnati. “We have to have probable cause.”

        Most of the staff, 15 INS agents and two supervisors, work international flights at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        Employers are required by law to check documents presented by job applicants, but they are not expected to have the expertise of immigration officials and are sometimes fooled by fake papers, Mr. Elersic said.

        Managers were duped by false documents at Club Chef, immigration officials said. The West End food processing business was the site of an INS raid in January 1997 that netted 69 illegal workers.

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