FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Federal immigra- tion agents conducted floor-by-floor searches yesterday at the Pinnacle Honolulu building site at Bishop and Beretania streets. A total of 19 illegal immi- grants were arrested here and at a Halawa ware-house.
Agents stage raid to catch illegals
Federal agents catch eight at a downtown construction site and 11 in Halawa
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Raids by federal agents resulted yesterday in the arrest of 19 people suspected of working in Honolulu as illegal immigrants.
Eight foreign nationals were arrested at the Pinnacle high-rise construction site downtown, and another 11 were arrested in a Halawa warehouse, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At the Pinnacle, agents searched the entire 36-story structure, where union officials say members have complained about illegal workers, safety issues and delays in pay.
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Federal agents arrested 19 illegal immigrants yesterday morning in raids at a downtown construction site and a warehouse in Halawa, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Honolulu.
"If it can happen on the base of Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu, one block away from the state Capitol, where else is the issue happening across the state?" said Kyle Chock, executive director of the Pacific Resource Partnership, a collaboration between contractors and the Hawaii Carpenters Union. "How widespread is the use of illegal immigrants, and how many other workers are being exploited in the process?"
ICE agents conducted floor-by-floor searches yesterday of workers at the Pinnacle Honolulu, a luxury 36-story high-rise under construction at the corner of Bishop and Beretania streets, and arrested eight people, said Wayne Wills, special agent in charge of the Honolulu office.
Agents also entered a warehouse in the Halawa industrial area and arrested 11 men, Wills said, declining to identify the business because of an ongoing investigation.
All 19 foreign nationals are being held on immigration charges, he said. They are from at least two countries and are in custody at the federal detention center near the airport.
"We're working with the U.S. Attorney's Office to look at additional charges," he added.
The developer of the Pinnacle is California-based Caribou Industries Inc. Caribou officials were not available for comment yesterday.
The general contractor is Ledcor-U.S. Pacific Construction.
Bill Deuchar, president of U.S. Pacific, said illegal workers are not employed by his company nor by subcontractors.
"We were essentially finished with the job for months," he said.
The developer elected to do tenant improvements in the building after U.S. Pacific finished the building's core and shell, he said.
"It's the developer (who) had contracted for them in some fashion," Deuchar said. "That's his business. We don't know how he contracted them or what route he took."
The Pinnacle construction site is a nonunion location with a small crew of fewer than 50 workers, said Chock. PRP officials have been in contact with federal and local authorities about allegations of illegal workers, safety issues and unpaid wages, he said.