Immigration and Naturalization Service agents rounded up 123 suspected illegal aliens in the city of Orange today during an early morning sweep that INS Regional Commissioner Harold Ezell said will be the first of a series of raids in Orange and Los Angeles counties specifically targeting areas where such workers gather to seek jobs.
A neighborhood surrounding Chapman Avenue and Hewes Street was chosen as the first site for the new program after 46 local business owners asked the INS to rid the district of men they believe are illegal aliens, said Bill Butler, president of an immigration watchdog group called Americans for Border Control. He is also the owner of a consulting firm on East Chapman Avenue.
"It's killing the businesses," Butler said of the men who have been congregating daily in a makeshift street employment center. Such scenes recently have become common in Southern California as men gather on street corners to await employment as day laborers. Construction and other employers then drive by to hire them.
Between 6:30 and 8 a.m., 16 agents swooped through the gathering places, sometimes chasing men over walls and through bushes. Most of the suspected illegals did not resist, agent Alex Hasychak said.
The suspects were taken to a border patrol station in San Clemente where they were to be given the opportunity to either request a deportation hearing before an immigration judge or agree to be taken across the border, INS spokesman John Belluardo said.