13 illegal aliens are arrested at Bel Air work site

August 01, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

Thirteen illegal aliens were arrested by federal agents Tuesday morning when they reported to work at a Bel Air condominium construction site, immigration officials said Wednesday.

A 14th man, a Salvadoran, was released when authorities from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) learned he was eligible to live in the United States.

The men are framing carpenters and work for Stedman Construction, a Houston-based subcontractor at English Country Manor, a condominium complex southwest of Harford Mall off Gateway Drive, officials said.

The 173-unit Phase I of the development was finished about two years ago. Phase II is under construction and is to have 224 units, priced from $70,000 to $90,000.

The workers -- five Mexicans, four Salvadorans, three Guatemalans and a Peruvian -- are all between 18 and 30 years old, said Thomas E. Perryman, head of the Maryland District Sanctions and Fraud Squad of the INS. All of the men have been released on cash bonds of $500, said Mr. Perryman.

Mr. Perryman said his office received an anonymous complaint July 3 about the workers, who are believed to have been receiving $6 to $8 an hour, well below union carpenter rates of about $15 an hour.

"One man volunteered to return to Mexico," said Mr. Perryman. The others will be granted deportation hearings, a process that can take up to six months, he said.

Meanwhile, the men can apply for work permits and return to their jobs until they have their hearings.

"If they have the money to hire lawyers to file appeals for them, it can drag on and on, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court," Mr. Perryman said.

"Some of them may apply for political asylum."

Immigration agents also seized a van used to transport the workers from Texas to Maryland, Mr. Perryman said.

"Our investigation showed this work gang is living at the Valencia motel in Laurel and commuting to Bel Air each day," he said.

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