HONOKOWAI, Maui — Twenty-one illegal immigrant workers were arrested Monday at the luxury Honua Kai construction project by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
All of the workers picked up Monday worked for Global Stone Inc., according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Advertiser was unable to contact the company.
The 21 men taken into custody include 12 from Mexico, eight from Brazil and one from Slovakia, the agency said. They are undergoing deportation proceedings.
Wayne Wills, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations in Hawai'i, said in a statement that it was troubling "to receive reports about unauthorized aliens working for Global Stone Inc. despite prior enforcement actions."
U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said in a statement that companies pleading ignorance of workers' immigration status should "think again, because if there is enough evidence we will aggressively pursue all available remedies to address this issue."
Before Monday's arrests, Kubo had reported 120 worksite arrests since December, mostly involving construction and farm workers. Wills would not comment on whether the company is facing prosecution, because the investigation is ongoing. Kubo was not available yesterday to say whether any employers in Hawai'i have been penalized for hiring undocumented workers.
Honua Kai is a 38-acre beachfront project comprising two condominium towers and a total of 700 condo and townhome units.
Monday's raid was coordinated with construction manager Ledcor Construction. After the August arrests, Ledcor said it sent letters to subcontractors on the project advising them to comply with labor and immigration laws. None of the company's workers was involved in the arrests.
Kyle Chock, executive director of the Pacific Resource Partnership, yesterday faulted unethical contractors for the problem of illegal workers in Hawai'i.
"We don't begrudge the workers who come to this country in search of an opportunity to better themselves and their families, as Hawai'i itself has an immigrant history," Chock said in a statement. "But we are extremely concerned about employers who disregard the social and economical consequences they have on Hawai'i's economy and the workers they employ."
The Pacific Resource Partnership is a joint program of the 6,000-member Hawaii Carpenters Union, Local 745, and its 220 signatory contractors across the state.