SEATTLE — The Department of Homeland Security freed 27 illegal immigrants arrested during a workplace raid in February and offered them legal work permits, signaling a major departure from the immigration enforcement policy of the Bush administration.
The Feb. 24 raid of an auto parts plant in Bellingham, Wash., netted 28 illegal immigrants. While one was deported, the remaining workers were released from custody and given employment authorization documents, or EADs, in exchange for cooperating with an ongoing investigation of their employer, Yamato Engine Specialists.
The EAD is a temporary work permit most commonly given to people applying for green cards or citizenship. It usually lasts for one year, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement sources tell FOX News that these work permits will expire when the case against Yamato is closed.
Immigrant rights activists support the move and the new direction Secretary Janet Napolitano is taking the Homeland Security Department with her focus on penalizing employers rather than the immigrants themselves.