A sheriff in suburban New Orleans has asked federal authorities to investigate reports that illegal immigrants are working on the Gulf oil spill cleanup effort.
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack A. Stephens said Wednesday that he asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement weeks ago to look into the reports.
Stephens says he wants to protect the community from "criminal elements" and not "people who want to earn an honest buck."
Immigrant rights groups lament that the request comes at a time when many people are searching for work.
Stephens says his office has set up checkpoints and is working with agencies on a credential system for BP cleanup contractors.
ICE spokesman Brian Hale says the agency has conducted training on hiring requirements and performed work authorization checks, all of which were valid.
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