Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses the media during an immigration and I.D. theft sweep Thursday, July 14, 2011, at Mesa’s Alpine Valley Bread bakery outlet.

Mike Sakal, Tribune

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating 31 workers at Mesa’s Alpine Valley Bread bakery outlet as possible illegal immigrants who obtained their jobs through stolen Social Security numbers and fake driver’s licenses.

The sweep by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and deputies started about 10 a.m. Thursday. As of 2 p.m., 24 workers had been arrested and the bakery had closed as deputies continued to investigate other workers, according to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was at the business at 300 W. Southern Ave.

No Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were at the bakery Thursday morning, but Arpaio said he plans to continue cracking down on illegal immigrants who commit crimes to obtain their jobs and the companies who knowingly employ them during a time when many American workers are out of work.

“People accuse me of arresting just dishwashers,” Arpaio told a large group of reporters in front of the store. “These people are committing crimes to get their jobs. Stealing someone’s identity is a felony.”

Arpaio would not say who provided a tip to authorities that the bakery could be employing illegal immigrants with stolen identities.

A number of the workers from the company’s production, packaging and distribution departments were being taken away in buses in the wake of the sweep.

Christina Armenta, a former cake production worker at the bakery, was among a group of people standing across the street from the business watching what was happening. She said she quit working at the bakery a month ago because she could not find a babysitter. Armenta said she had been working 12-hour days, five days a week and receiving a lot of overtime, but before she quit she was put on salary and made less money.

She had arrived at the business on Thursday morning to pick up a letter from her former employer she could provide to the Department of Economic Services.

“I came into the surprise of this,” Armenta said. “My uncle and cousin work in there and a lot of my friends still do. I’m not worried about my uncle and cousin — they’re good to go, but I saw some of my friends being taken away in the bus.”

Armenta said she was afraid some of her friends might be deported.

“I feel bad for everybody,” Armenta said.

Arturo Garcia, who has worked in packaging for distribution to vendors at the bakery for a little more than a year, was supposed to start working at 2 p.m. Thursday, but came down to the bakery when he heard about the raid.

“I was shocked,” Arturo said. “I didn’t think this would happen here. The people are really hard-working loyal people. Many of them have kids. But, I know if you’re working without the proper identification, that’s against the law.”

Arpaio told reporters the incident at Alpine Valley Bread is further proof that more needs to be done to combat illegal immigration. He also mentioned that his deputies arrested an illegal immigrant Wednesday night who had somehow come to be inside the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant west of Phoenix.

“This causes great concern to me about the lackadaisical security at these government facilities, and that the government is allowing these people to come inside these facilities,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio did not comment about why the person arrested at the nuclear facility was there. The sheriff’s office was expected to release more information later in the day.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

(1) comment

Brittanicus

SLIGHT OF HAND..?

This is an urgent red flag day warning for all patriotic activists as President Obama is flying under the radar in a bid to stay any prosecutions of Illegal aliens. In a directive memo to ICE Field Office Directors, Special Agents-in-Charge, and all Chief Counsels are NOT to deport illegal aliens, unless they are violent felons.

Now that he has lost the fight to push an illegal immigration amnesty through Congress, he's trying to win it by bypassing Congress altogether! Last month, a memo written by ICE administrator John Morton, an appointee of Pres. Obama, was leaked to the media. This order amounts to a Backdoor Amnesty for millions of Illegal Aliens who have no legal right to be in the U.S. Obviously, this order is flying in the face of decades of clear federal law. When the Labor department statistics indicate there are 13 million US born Americans and legal residents out of work, how can he possibly validate any order as this?

The memo states that illegal aliens are not to be pursued if they meet any of 19 factors, including:

* Serves the community, or
* Has a job, or
* Graduated from high school, or
* Has a relative in the U.S. military
* Just to name a few points

How many illegal aliens do you think can be fit into one of those 19 classes! And these are only 3 of the 19 conditions that protect illegal aliens from being prosecuted by ICE personnel. This Backdoor Amnesty can be reversed! Even Pres. Obama wasn't brazen enough to issue all these illegal aliens work permits or citizenship papers. We can turn back the clock, and we're determined to do so.

Stepping up again to champion common sense is Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the man who leading on H.R. 2164, which is the 50-state mandatory E-Verify bill. Chairman Smith has introduced a bill that can change the situation!

Smith's new HALT Act blocks the Obama Backdoor Amnesty. The details are a bit complicated, but in brief the HALT Act would:

* HALT the Obama Administration from canceling the removal of illegal aliens.
* HALT the Obama Administration from granting work authorization to aliens on a discretionary basis.
* HALT the Obama Administration from issuing extended voluntary departure to removable aliens.

Of course, we all assume that Pres. Obama would veto the HALT Act if it came to his desk. The purpose of the bill is to at least get the U.S. House on record to create a highly general public showdown in which the President would most likely be humiliated into backing down.

1) We have to guide H.R. 2164, the 50-state Mandatory E-Verify bill, safely through the House and Senate, AND

2) We've got to reverse Obama's Backdoor Amnesty. No Backdoor Amnesties! No states without E-Verify protection! No more giving away American jobs to illegal aliens!

After the recession is over, a need for agricultural workers could necessitate a uniform, expedited legal means to hire migrants with a tracking system. Mexico has a tracking method for all persons entering their country, while on the other hand the US has millions of visa overstays who have not returned to their originating country. As of now there is a poorly organized system that estimates 40 percent of tourists, students and others overstay their visa departure dates. Learn the facts, not rhetoric at NumbersUSA.

At this time, we certainly must reduce--ALL--immigration, when we have a $14.5 Trillion dollar federal deficit. Incidentally, what about the 20 million plus already here? Does that population figure not count, when the liberal press and the open border zealots try to convince us illegal immigration to the US has fallen off?

No more stealth amnesties must be passed; 6 small amnesties have found passage since the 1986 Simpson/ Mazzoli bill, with a million or more foreigners entering America legally each year. The United States will never say “No’ to educated highly skilled professionals like Engineers and Scientists, but here we must draw the line. Right now without secure border, lax federal and State laws, we have been invaded by ECONOMIC illegal aliens that are depleting this countries entitlement systems.

Join a local Tea Party near you across the country, as there are now thousands of branches near you, ready to welcome any citizen or legal resident American, without any prejudice against a person religion or racial background. The Tea Party says no more Immigration Reform--Amnesty, no Sanctuary Cities and no Dream Act.

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