Local News

Raid on Illegal Aliens Fuels Controversy

Posted July 7, 1998

— Six illegal immigrants who were taken into custody last month at a Raleigh restaurant appeared in federal court in Atlanta Tuesday. The incident has spread fear and distrust in the Hispanic Community.

The raid on El Mandado happened after an illegal alien who worked there was named in theRaleigh News and Observer.

"These people have risked their lives literally to get here to be able to make six bucks an hour," says Mike Leary, the publisher of a Spanish language newspaper.

Leary knows firsthand how complicated and lengthy the immigration process can be. Not only does he publish La Conexion, a Spanish newspaper, but his wife Lupita is from Mexico. Since they married last year, they have gone through a mountain of paperwork trying to get her a green card. Leary says illegal immigrants help, not threaten our community.

"If we sent everyone in Raleigh back to Mexico, or wherever they came from, our economy would come to a grinding halt," Leary explains. "They're not taking jobs from people. They're coming here to fill jobs that Americans don't want and won't take."

Some of these jobs include working in Mexican restaurants. One local restaurant was raided by immigration agents last month after a newspaper article tipped them off to the whereabouts of an illegal alien.

The immigration raid at the restaurant did more than just scare people. Many say it created an overall distrust between the Hispanic community and everyone else.

"They are angry when they don't know the facts," says Marco Roldan. "When they find out the facts they come to be afraid. They say well if it happened with this guy, it could happen with all of us."

That fear may continue to perpetuate two worlds within one community. The Immigration and Naturalization Service is seeking to deport the three women and three men who could not produce valid green cards. They could be asked to return to their native countries of Mexico and Honduras.


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