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936 Arrested in Weeklong INS Sweep of Illegal Alien Workers

Times Staff Writer

Immigration agents completed a weeklong roundup of alleged illegal alien workers Friday by arresting 116 people at two locations in the San Fernando Valley where day laborers gather seeking work in suburban gardens or construction sites.

Friday’s roundup brings the total number of workers arrested during the week to 936, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service said.

Starting Monday, two raids a day were conducted throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area, including four at day labor pickup sites and six at manufacturing companies whose products included furniture, lighting fixtures, door frames and recreational vehicles.

The INS spokesman said the agency’s effort, labeled “Operation Employer,” was intended to clear jobs for American citizens and immigrants with work visas.

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Wages Up to $8 an Hour

Ernest Gustafson, INS district director who oversaw the operation, said earlier this week that illegal immigrants at the various companies earned wages ranging from the federally mandated minimum wage of $3.35 an hour to $8 per hour.

On Friday, agents arrested 65 suspected illegal aliens at the corner of Vanowen Street and Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park and at Kester Avenue and Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys.

Most of those arrested during the week agreed to voluntarily return to Mexico; a few decided to wait for hearings, the INS said.

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Spokesman Joe Flanders said the INS considers “Operation Employer” a success, although he acknowledged that many of those sent back to Mexico will recross the U.S. border and return to their old jobs.

“I believe it opened up a few jobs,” Flanders said.


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