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Review of Bellingham immigration raid ordered by Napolitano

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered a review of a Tuesday, Feb. 24, raid at Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham that resulted in the arrests of 28 workers believed to be in the country illegally.

Napolitano told lawmakers during a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that she did not know about the raid before it happened and was briefed on it early Wednesday. She has asked U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which conducted the raid, for answers.

"I want to get to the bottom of this as well," she said, adding that work-site enforcement needs to be focused on the employers.

Rosalinda Guillen, an immigrant rights advocate who is executive director of Community to Community Development in Bellingham, said she was encouraged by Napolitano's attitude.

"That's what we would have expected from the Obama administration," Guillen said, adding that the tactics in Tuesday's raid were unnecessarily traumatic for workers, their families and their employer.

"We're concerned that Homeland Security is enforcing immigration law without any respect for local communities and local economies," Guillen said. "They just want to enforce the law regardless of the impact on us here. ...

"We know there's going to have to be some type of enforcement, but this is not it. It's a war on immigrant workers and local economies that we just can't ignore."

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