In one of the largest immigration raids in Orange County history, U.S. Border Patrol officers on Wednesday arrested about 170 people suspected of being illegal immigrants.
The 8 a.m. raid at a 260-unit apartment complex in Orange occurred just three weeks after more than 100 laborers were arrested on Orange city streets as they sought work.
During the Wednesday raid, residents said that Border Patrol agents had guns drawn as they kicked on apartment doors and banged windows with gun handles. The residents said the agents were accompanied by city housing code enforcement inspectors.
City officials said they could not immediately confirm that city housing inspectors were involved. City Councilman Fred L. Barrerra, the only Latino on the council, said he intends "to look into these allegations," today. "I want to get all the facts," Barrerra said.
Richard Spix, an attorney with the immigrant rights organization Hermandad Mexicana Nacional in Santa Ana, said that city inspectors told residents they were there to "inspect cockroaches."
"They basically allowed these people to enter for the purposes of conducting a housing inspection. Then they call in the (agents) who are waiting outside," Spix said.
U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Michael Gregg said agents initially went to the complex to assist Orange police, who in turn had gone as backup for the city's housing code enforcement inspectors. He said his agency started making arrests when agents encountered people they suspected were illegal immigrants.