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Ex-Employees at Va. Resort Await Immigration Hearings

By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 18, 2008

Six weeks after immigration agents raided Lansdowne Resort in Loudoun County, most of the 59 workers arrested on civil charges of entering the United States illegally have been released from custody while they await hearings on their immigration status, authorities said.

Six of the former workers have been deported or left the country voluntarily, resolving their cases, and one has been charged with a criminal offense, officials said.

Jose Manuel Guerra, 47, a native of El Salvador, has been charged with using bogus Social Security and alien registration numbers to get a job at Lansdowne, according to court documents. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Guerra admitted to a federal agent that he bought a fake U.S. immigration resident alien card from an unknown person on an unknown street in the District for $50, court documents say.

More criminal charges cannot be ruled out against former workers or managers at the resort, said Pat A. Reilly, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. None of the resort's administrators has been charged.

"The investigation continues. I mean, 59 people have a lot of information" that could implicate others, Reilly said.

ICE officials said they are looking into how the Lansdowne workers entered the United States without legal documents, how some obtained fraudulent papers and how they got jobs at the resort.

The civil administrative charges by ICE remain against 53 of the former Lansdowne workers, 15 of whom remain in custody, officials said. The other 38 have been released while they await hearings; a judge will decide whether they can stay in the United States.

The investigation began in July after a routine inspection of federal employment verification forms, known as I-9s, that immigrant workers had submitted at the resort, officials said. Agents said they determined that many of the workers were using fraudulent documents or had stolen identities.

On April 8, ICE agents descended upon Lansdowne and interviewed about 100 employees, which led to the 59 arrests.

"ICE nabs illegal workers at an affluent hotel resort in northern Virginia," the agency's news release was headlined.

The raid came just a few weeks after ICE agents raided a construction company office in Prince William County, arresting 34 workers suspected of being in the United States illegally.

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