Panhandle Sheriff Targets Illegal Immigrant Construction Workers

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The Bay County sheriff's department is targeting illegal immigrants at construction sites.

Deputies in patrol cars pull up to the site, and those who take off are chased down and arrested.

They're charged with trespassing, for cutting through someone else's property; or loitering, for hiding out in someone's yard; or reckless driving, for speeding off in a car.

U.S immigration authorities are then given the names of those believed to be in this country illegally. More than 500 have been reported since November.

Sheriff Frank McKeithen created his Illegal Alien Task Force in April to target construction sites in this Florida Panhandle county.

Immigrant advocates say the technique is repugnant, and the ACLU says its constitutionality is questionable.

The sheriff says the raids are justified under a long-standing Florida law prohibiting employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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