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Alleged illegal migrants facing fraud charges

Arpaio: 8 faked IDs to get amusement park jobs

PHOENIX – Sheriff’s deputies say they’ve arrested eight suspected illegal immigrants on fraud charges for allegedly using forged documents or stolen identities to get jobs at two amusement parks in metropolitan Phoenix.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose office is investigating the case, said the fraud bust might lead to a case under the state’s employer sanctions law if deputies can prove the amusement park operators knew they were hiring illegal immigrants.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said authorities didn’t yet have a sanctions case resulting from the raid Tuesday morning at Golfland Entertainment locations in Mesa and north Phoenix.

Golfland Entertainment released a written statement saying the company was cooperating with investigators and following the requirements of the employer sanctions law, including checking the employment eligibility of its workers through a federal database.

“We will work cooperatively with their efforts as we are convinced that we have been abiding by all the provisions detailed in the (law),” the company said.

The information that led the fraud arrests came from a former Golfland Entertainment employee, who told investigators that the owners of the parks were knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Arpaio said his office will examine whether the owners violated the employer sanctions law or conspired with the eight arrested employees in the fraud cases.

Employment records were seized during the raid.

Elias Bermudez, leader of the advocacy group Immigrants Without Borders, said the sheriff was overstepping his authority by targeting employees of the business.

“It truly angers the community that now we have to live in fear of this guy,” Bermudez said.

Arpaio said the arrests at the amusement parks were for serious crimes. “We go after anybody,” Arpaio said. “I don’t care where they are.”

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