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Federal Officials Deny Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants

June 4, 2007 — Although several witnesses say they've seen an increase in illegal immigrants searches on St. Thomas, officials said Monday there has been no crackdown.
The Source has collected countless tips that police and federal agents are stopping safari taxis and checking suspected illegal immigrants at random. The tipsters asked that their names not be used.
Hearsay of the random checks has circled St. Thomas after a May 17 bust in Red Hook, where 27 illegal aliens were arrested by federal agents. Taken into custody were 12 people from the Dominican Republic, nine from Dominica, four Haitians, one person from Guadeloupe and one from Colombia.
The arrests were anything but random, said Ivan Ortiz, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"We do not conduct random checks," he said. "They are all planned in a very serious manner."
The arrests came after community complaints, Ortiz said.
"People had complained that there were so many illegal aliens seeking employment," he said.
In April federal agents picked up a total of 43 illegal immigrants in St. Thomas: five from China, 36 from Cuba and two from Dominica. All but one, a minor, were looking for employment, according to ICE records.
In March, ICE arrested just 17 illegal immigrants: eight from Cuba, seven from China, one from Poland and one from Dominica. Again, all but one was looking for work.
ICE agents will continue actively seeking people in the territory illegally, Ortiz said.
V.I. Police Commissioner James McCall didn't immediately return phone messages.
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