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NC Illegal Immigrants/Privatization Probe Expands/Cree Research in Trouble

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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 05:41 PM
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NC Illegal Immigrants/Privatization Probe Expands/Cree Research in Trouble
Immigration officials arrest 36 at Cree


Federal immigration officials arrested 36 undocumented workers at Cree this morning, and signalled that other Triangle technology companies with foreign workers on the payroll will come under scrutiny.

The early-morning sweep at the Durham semiconductor-chip maker netted unauthorized immigrants from Kenya, Gambia, Congo, Togo, Israel, Pakistan, Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, following a 10-month long investigation. All but 10 were employed by a maintenance and cafeteria services subcontractor, GCA Services Group of West Conshohocken, Penn.

The remaining Cree employees included professionals who had allegedly lied about not being citizens on their I-9, the form employers must fill out to ensure their employers are authorized to work, said Tom O'Connell, agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Cary.

After targeting North Carolina military bases and airports in recent months, the agency is ready to take a closer look at private-sector companies with large defense contracts. Following the 2001 terrorist acts and passage of the 2002 Homeland Security Act, the federal government is cracking down on undocumented immigrants working in sensitive areas, such as nuclear power plants and airports.
Cynthia B. Merrell, Cree's chief financial officer, said none of the workers arrested today were associated with government contracts. GCA, the Cree subcontractor, did not return calls seeking comments. Cree employees were caught by surprise by the arrests, unaware of the probe that had been under way with Cree's cooperation since January, O'Connell said. "The last thing they expected to be at Cree this morning were immigration agents," he said.

Immigration officials arrest 36 at Cree

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