Federal authorities acting on a complaint raided the Olympic Village construction site on the Georgia Tech campus Thursday and arrested 37 illegal immigrants.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service had begun an investigation in November after labor unions complained to state and federal officials that illegal immigrants were displacing American workers on the project at lower wages.
INS spokesman Tom Fischer said the illegal immigrants--34 from Mexico and three from El Salvador--used false identification to get jobs with several construction companies working at the site. He said the illegal workers were being paid $10 to $13 an hour.
Most of the Mexican workers agreed to accept voluntary deportation, and the others will face a deportation hearing before a federal judge, the INS said.
Lyn May, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, said: “It’s an issue that is between the state and the contractor.”
R. B. Montgomery, project manager for the contractor, Ellis-Don Construction Inc., said all the people arrested were employees of various subcontractors, not of Ellis-Don.
He said the arrested workers will be replaced immediately and completion of the project will not be affected.