The Security Of Illegal Immigrant Aircraft Workers

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested 27 illegal immigrant workers in a raid last Tuesday. These folks weren't stocking department store shelves or picking fruit -- they were fixing airliners. ICE conducted the raid on theTIMCO Aviation Services facility in Greensboro, N.C. The 27 people arrested face a variety of charges, including using false documents (most had driver's licenses). They come from Sudan, Chile, Peru, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Venezuela, Mexico and Laos. At least one had obtained his A&P rating from the FAA. "As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, the United States cannot risk having 'unknown' people working on its critical infrastructure," ICE spokesman Thomas O'Connell said in a statement. Initially TIMCO denied that any of the workers were direct employees, but instead worked for contractors. It later said that six were permanent, full-time staff. The company also dismissed safety concerns, saying the work of all the employees was subject to inspection and oversight. However, Percy Vega, a Peruvian, had obtained his A&P and would therefore have had sign-off authority. Court records indicated Vega had lived in Greensboro off and on since 1994.