National immigration crackdown puts Park City on edge
Reports of a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration along with an immigration raid in Tooele on Wednesday, may have been the trigger for a rash of rumors in Park City on Friday.
According to several hotel industry representatives, telephone calls were flying back and forth across the city Friday afternoon warning of an impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid.
As of late Friday afternoon, however, The Park Record was unable to confirm any immigration related arrests and was told by ICE Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joe Romel, "I don’t know that we have arrested anyone today that wasn’t already in jail."
Romel, however, did say that he had received calls from all over the state Friday asking about whether an operation was underway. As to what sparked the rumors, Romel said, "I can only guess it comes from when we were in Tooele on that national operation Wednesday."
"People start seeing things. But I can assure you that is not what we do for a living. We don’t make a habit of rounding people up."
There was talk that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were spotted at several hotels.
The Park City Police Department, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and ICE say that was not the case.
At The Yarrow, where immigration officials were reportedly spotted, the lobby at about 3 p.m. was almost empty.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Dave Ward dispelled rumors Friday that immigration agents raided several businesses and arrested illegal immigrants working in Park City.
"There is absolutely nothing," Ward said, calling rumors about the raids "mass hysteria."
Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds confirmed Ward’s report.
"I think I would be the first to know," Edmunds said, adding that agents would contact him because suspects would likely be housed in his jail.
The owner of a Mexican grocery store in Park City, Snyderville resident Jose Suarez, said many people contacted him Friday to inquire about possible raids in the area.
Suarez said he visited several establishments, including grocery stores and a ski resort, to investigate the concerns.
"I could not find anything," Suarez said.
Park Record staffers Patrick Parkinson, Jay Hamburger and Nan Chalat-Noaker contributed to this report.
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