Authorities reportedly conducted two separate raids at the new Lake Nona VA Medical center last Wednesday. According to officials, nine people were taken into custody after the second raid. The nine workers reportedly were placed in jail and will be processed for deportation/removal proceedings.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, along with insurance fraud investigators visited the hospital during the daylight hours. The agents and investigators reportedly left the hospital without taking any individuals into custody.
An anonymous individual reportedly called the Orlando Police around 6:45 that same evening. The tipster reportedly told police that a manager for a contractor at the new facility helped undocumented workers hide from the agents who had visited earlier in the day.
Police notified ICE, and agents returned to the medical center Wednesday evening. The caller also was present Wednesday evening. Authorities claim the anonymous caller led law enforcement to a location on the fifth floor of the structure.
A worker removed some scaffolding at the location that reportedly concealed a hidden space, measuring 30 feet long, 10 feet wide and 18 inches deep. Six workers that federal agents believe are in the country illegally were reportedly found inside the hidden space. Three other workers were taken into custody, according to police.
A spokeswoman for the general contractor at the VA site told the Orlando Sentinel the contractor uses the E-verify system and is compliant with the I-9 process. The spokeswoman says the general contractor also requires all subcontractors working on the general contractor’s project to maintain E-verify and I-9 compliance. The spokeswoman says there are many contractors and subcontractors on the VA project with more than 500 workers at the site.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Cops: Manager for VA contractor may have helped hide illegal immigrants,” Jeff Weiner 11 Feb 2011