By Chelsea Schilling
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is warning that illegal aliens may have gained access to a U.S. Army installation in Arizona that also serves as the nation’s largest military intelligence-training center.
“I have deep concerns that people who come into our country illegally have managed to gain access onto an active U.S. military installation,” Arpaio said in a statement today. “This cause for concern goes well beyond the argument that people are only committing the crime of wanting to work in this country.”
Arpaio’s detectives raided Valley View Building Services in central Phoenix today, searching for 25 people suspected of identity theft and fraud.
The company employs 100 people in three states and is contracted to clean newly constructed buildings at Fort Huachuca, an Army post located only 15 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. At least one of the suspects had worked on the military installation.
The deputies took five women into custody today. Four are suspected illegal aliens arrested for identity theft and fraud. One is a U.S. citizen wanted with an outstanding warrant.
“When we went in there, one of the ladies was hiding her Mexican ID in an enchilada, trying to conceal the identification,” Arpaio said.
He said authorities are still searching for other illegal aliens who may be working for the company.
“We did serve another search warrant on the residence of the owner and, going through the papers, we’re going to determine which work sites that the others may be working at,” he said.
Arpaio told KTVK-3 TV, “One thing I want to find out is how many more illegals have been hired [to work at] Fort Huachuca. That’s a high-intelligence installation. I don’t think people should go on that installation to work if they’re in this country illegally.”
Valley View Building Services released a statement on the arrests today.
“In May of 2010 a manager for Valley View Building Services was detained on the Fort Huachuca military base for a baseless charge made by a disgruntled employee,” explained Joel Votaw, owner of the company. “This charge has since been dropped. During that investigation, it came to light that he was working in the United States illegally, even though he presented a valid Arizona drivers license and social security card. He was allowed on base (entering through the main gate and having to present his ID each time) during the entire duration of this 3-month-long project.”
Votaw said his company fired the manager immediately and that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began a company-wide investigation into Valley View’s hiring practices. He said today’s raid was for ID theft issues and not due to violation of the employer-sanction law.
Most of the company’s workforce is Hispanic, according to news reports. Votaw said he has always verified identification of its employees through E-Verify, strictly complying with local, state and federal rules.
“Today was the first time we had received any notice that there were more problems. We support the detaining of the four people who were identified as using some other identity and we also support the detaining of the one individual that has a misdemeanor warrant out for his arrest,” he wrote. “These crimes are serious and need to be dealt with.”
Votaw continues, “We are dealing with real people and real problems that deserve to be handled respectfully and justly. If we err, let us err on the side of compassion, but let us do what is required of us both morally and constitutionally. Let us protect our country, while also realizing that we were all immigrants at one time.”
According to various reports, this is hardly the first time illegal aliens have accessed the military installation.
Retired Army officer T.J. Woodward lives in the area. In a May commentary posted on American Thinker, he wrote that he spotted an ad in a Fort Huachuca newspaper asking for volunteers to clean up trash and supplies left on the Army post by illegal aliens.
“It asked for volunteers to assist in cleaning up ‘dumps’ on posts where the illegals would drop their supplies used to cross the border and change clothing,” Woodward wrote. “They do this in order to blend in and not look like they just spent a day or two crossing the border in the dust and heat of southern Arizona.”
He added, “The most frightening part of this is that Fort Huachuca is the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, where the Army trains its intelligence soldiers – analysts, interrogators, radio intercept specialists and counterintelligence agents – for operations overseas. If we can’t secure the fort we use to train our intelligence soldiers, how can we secure anything else?”
In 2007, The Washington Times reported Fort Huachuca changed security measures “after sources warned that possibly 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists were to be smuggled into the U.S. through underground tunnels with high-powered weapons to attack the Arizona Army base.”
An FBI advisory stated, “A portion of the operatives were in the United States, with the remainder not yet in the United States. The Afghanis and Iraqis shaved their beards so as not to appear to be Middle Easterners.”
According to the report, illegal aliens from the Middle East paid Mexican drug lords $20,000 “or the equivalent in weapons” for smuggling them and their weapons through the tunnels.
One source who spoke with DEA intelligence agents said the weapons included two Milan antitank missiles, Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles, grenade launchers, long guns and handguns.
The Tucson Weekly reported one rancher just west of Fort Huachuca answered his door in 2004 when a female illegal alien asked to use his phone.
According to the report, the call was to Libya.
As WND recently reported, thousands of illegal aliens apprehended along the 2,000-mile border stretching through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas aren’t even from Mexico. Many are citizens of countries that are known sponsors of terrorism, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Syria and Iran.
Arpaio’s crime sweep took place just before a federal judge blocked some of the toughest provisions in Arizona’s illegal-immigration law, S.B. 1070.