Days after the raid that hauled 14 illegal foreign workers out of this restaurant, Ulysses G. (Blackie) Auger was still fuming about the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. It was only the most recent incident in a long, sometimes bitter fight between the restauranteur and the agency.
"You know what you got down there [at INS?"] Auger asked rhetorically as he sat in the opulence of his dark, wood-paneled office above Blackie's House of Beef. "A bunch of sadists that have not consideration for individual human people." He called them, "badge-happy."
Immigration investigators laugh in exasperation at such accusations. They are just trying to do their largely thankless duties, they say. "You think I don't feel for these guys?" said one, speaking of the mostly impoverished illegal immigrants picked up at Blackie's. "If I was in their shoes I'd be up here trying to find a job, too."
For Auger, however, there is little such sympathy. "We go back a long way with Blackie," said one veteran official. "I can't even remember how many times we've picked up people at his places."
An affidavit filed in support of the search warrant used last Friday alleges that Blackie's pays less money per hour than other restaurants, an accusation that Auger vehemently denies, insisting that he pays at least the minimum wage to all his employes.
In Virginia, moreover, where it is now against the law to hire undocumented workers, Auger said he is virtually certain there none in his firms. In Washington, where no such law exists, he said he has no way of knowing how many work for him since he doesn't ask for proof of permanent residence.
"I haven't done anything wrong," he said yesterday. "The government's just trying to make a point."
For awhile in the mid-1970s there was something of a truce between Auger and INS investigators. An immigration official would call him up or drop by his office with the names of illegal aliens suspected of working in his restaurants. He would look them up in his computor and give the agent their home and business addresses.
INS investigators said recently the problem they had with this arrangement was that they could almost never find the aliens where they were told they would be.
Then about two years ago, Auger recalled, an agent with whom he was familiar stopped by Blackie's in the company of a couple of other investigators and asked if they could look around. The next thing he knew, said Auger, "maybe 15 of them were running through the building" chasing aliens.
Auger said he felt betrayed. "That's what started all this. He lied to me I said the next time you come in here you're coming with a warrant."
From then on the fight became something of a personal cause for Auger. When INS investigators did return to his restaurant with a search warrant in March, rounding up 10 illegal aliens in a much-publicized raid. Auger sued the agency and won a decision in the U.S. District Court here that the warrant was unlawful because it applied to searches for property, not people.
Several INS officials said they were crippled by the decision, and when they decided to try out a new type of civil warrant to circumvent it, the first place they raided -- on Friday -- was Blakie's.
Auger is not about to let things stop there, and INS officials felt sure he would not. Next week his lawyers plan to take the Immigration Service into the once again to test the validity of this new warrant.
Auger, in a rare moment of agreement with INS officials, said he thinks the only real solution to such problems is comprehemsive new federal legislation. But meanwhile, he said, "I think somewhere along the line this thing that's started is going to come to a head ... They want me and they're going all the way to the Supreme Court if they have to." He said he would be glad to take the fight that far.