Federal immigration authorities announced today that they have charged a Delaware contractor with employing an illegal alien while laying track for the Baltimore area's light-rail line.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service is seeking $22,100 in fines from Metroplex Corp. of Dover, Del.
INS says the company employed an illegal alien and failed to properly verify the identities and employment eligibilities of its workers, according to an INS news release.
Metroplex, a specialized construction firm, can pay the fine or challenge the charge before an administrative law judge, the INS reported.
Neither an INS spokesman nor Metroplex could be reached for comment today.
The state Mass Transit Administration, which is overseeing construction of the light-rail system, also declined to comment, spokeswoman Helen L. Dale said.
Dale said Metroplex does not appear to be a prime contractor for light rail.
"They may be a sub-contractor or a sub- sub-contractor," she said.
INS agents from the Baltimore office arrested four illegal aliens while the Metroplex crew worked on the rail line near Ruxton in Baltimore County, the INS said.
Those aliens allegedly were earning $11 to $12 per hour.
The main section of the trolley line, which is being paid for by the state, runs 22.5 miles from Timonium through Baltimore and south to Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie.
The state plans to open most of the main line next spring.
State transportation officials also expect to build extensions to Hunt Valley, Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Pennsylvania Station once they obtain some federal funds.
The line ran into environmental problems late last year, when state inspectors cited some contractors for violating erosion-control regulations in the Ruxton area.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to conduct tests of soil along the rail line in Ruxton during the next 12 months to monitor levels of lead and other possible toxic substances.
Some nearby residents have expressed concern that the soil disturbed during light-rail construction may contain toxic chemicals from slag or fly ash, which were commonly used to build railroad lines decades ago.