Agents of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service rounded up 123 suspected illegal aliens in the City of Orange during an early morning sweep Wednesday, the first of what INS Regional Commissioner Harold Ezell said will be a series of raids in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
An area of East Chapman Avenue, between Hewes and Yorba Streets, was targeted at the request of a new group, Americans for Border Control. Most of the group’s founding members are friends or church associates of Ezell, who encouraged the organization’s founding.
Both Ezell and Bill Butler, president of Americans for Border Control and co-owner of a business on the avenue, denied that any favoritism was involved in the INS decision to conduct the sweep. About 20 members of the organization were on hand as early as 6 a.m. Wednesday to cheer on the INS and wave placards with messages such as: “Don’t Let the USA Become a Third World Nation.”
The sweep was aimed at the estimated 200 men who gather daily at street-side locations where they wait for employers to drive by and hire them for day labor jobs in construction, landscaping, moving and other employment fields. The Chapman Avenue area is one of a several such gathering places in Southern California.
Did Not Resist
Between 6:30 and 8 a.m., 16 agents chased men in cars and on foot over walls and through bushes. Most of the suspected illegals did not resist detention, Agent Alex Hasychak said.
They were taken to a Border Patrol station in San Clemente where they were asked to request a deportation hearing or submit to voluntary deportation, INS spokesman John Belluardo said.
The sweep was witnessed by several reporters and television crews, who were notified by the INS in advance of the raid.
Ezell said he has been considering such raids for at least two months. Coincidentally, Ezell said, the border control group raised the issue of men congregating for jobs on Chapman Avenue. Ezell said similar raids will be conducted at other street-corner “employment centers.”
Areas in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Van Nuys are targeted for future sweeps, Ezell said.
Butler said he went from door to door to collect signatures from 46 business owners who complained that the aliens discouraged customers by littering the area, urinating in public and appearing threatening to women passing by. But other shop owners said in interviews after the raid that the men did not concern them and patronized their businesses.