Friday, May 20

ILLEGAL ALIENS EMPLOYED AT HOUSTON-AREA REFINERIES?

"Click2Houston.com" reports breaking news this evening, and as concomitantly broadcast during "Local 2 News" 6:00pm CDT newscast, that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have rounded up two dozen suspected illegal aliens who were working at Houston-area refineries, possibly as leased employees through a third party agency. Nationally, 60 suspected illegal immigrants working at refineries have been arrested in a wide-ranging crackdown.

According to the report: In Houston, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 20 people at the Lyondell-Citgo Refinery in Houston, one person at the Valero Refinery in Houston and three at the Valero Refinery in Texas City."The workers specifically were working -- painting, pipefitting, at times, and general maintenance," said Scott Hatfield of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

This dispels the notion that illegals strictly work in low-paying jobs, typically in agriculture.

It also dispels the notion that illegals, pouring into this country across the porous, southern contiguous border with Mexico, cannot present a clear and present danger from a Homeland Security perspective. If they can gain employment at oil refinereries and chemical plants, even with poor and/or forged documentation, then they could, were they terrorists, engage in serious sabotage with deadly consequences.

Houston and the entire south-central Gulf Coast region of the United States comprise one of the largest petro-chemical manufacturing regions in the world. This is a target-rich environment for terrorists and there's ready access to the region from nearby Mexico.

America, stand warned. Congress, stand warned. President Bush, stand warned.

What has allegedly occured is totally unacceptable. If careful pre-employment screening is required anywhere, it is at this country's chemical plants and refineries. And that goes for contract and leased employees as well, along with suppliers' representatives. There must be a vigorous and rigorous "practice in place."

POSTSCRIPT:

This from the Associated Press (AP):

The suspects "had access to sensitive critical infrastructure locations and therefore pose a serious homeland security threat," said Michael J. Garcia, assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Not only are their identities in question, but given their illegal status, these individuals are vulnerable to potential exploitation by terrorist and other criminal organizations."

The arrests - made Thursday and Friday in Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas - came as part of federal efforts to protect key facilities around the country.

The illegal immigrants were working at seven petrochemical refineries, three power plants, an air cargo facility and a pipeline facility. There is no evidence the individuals - from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras - have terrorist ties.