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Villaraigosa: Immigration Raids Could Have 'Severe and Long-Lasting Effects'

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Yesterday, ICE raided the Concord English Language Learning Center in the Wilshire District. Behzad "Ben" Zaman, 50, who ran two schools in LA, was arrested on charges that he used his English language schools as a front to get student visas for Russian prostitutes and other ineligible foreigners. While this raid may have been legitimate, other recent raids are raising concerns with local politicians and community members (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

It's about time Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa goes public on the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in the Los Angeles area. Last week, 60 workers were arrested on immigration violations in Torrance and 130 undocumented workers were busted in Van Nuys back in February. Nationwide, 4,900 work-site arrests occurred in the 2007 fiscal year, a 45% increase since 2001.

The next local target could be a big one: American Apparel. ICE recently made an inquiry about the clothing company's hiring procedures. If a raid were to happen on the company, it could affect over 2,000 people.

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Villaraigosa points out the raids could affect the local economy. For each worker arrested, a family usually is attached to that worker's income and it becomes a domino effect.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security dated March 27, Villaraigosa pointed the finger to ederal official for cherry picking "established, responsible employers" in industries that rely on "workforces that include undocumented immigrants."

"In these industries, including most areas of manufacturing, even the most scrupulous and responsible employers have no choice but to rely on workers whose documentation, while facially valid, may raise questions about their lawful presence."

The mayor rather see ICE target employers who exploit their workers with low wages and long hours and criminals gang members. However, an ICE representative told the LA Times that they believe they are "prioritizing appropriately... This is not random. The types of arrests that are made are well thought out."

Then please help the gang problem and be "well thought out" about it.