Skip to comments.FAA licensed 5 arrested at TIMCO (high-level airplane repair licenses)
Posted on 03/24/2005 11:39:28 PM PST by Libloather
FAA licensed 5 arrested at TIMCO
By Taft Wireback, Staff Writer
News & Record
GREENSBORO -- Five of those arrested on immigration charges at TIMCO two weeks ago had high-level repair licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating how they qualified for licensing tests, the agency said Wednesday.
FAA administrators are looking into documents used by the five in seeking the right to test for Airframe and Powerplant certification, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. The A&P license allows mechanics to work on the more complex parts of a plane.
"To our knowledge, they all passed the written, oral and practical tests," said Bergen, who works at the FAA's Atlanta regional office.
It's permissible for foreigners to test for an A&P license as long as they provide valid proof of training and experience, which can come from their home country and is then verified by the U.S. State Department, Bergen said.
Dave Latimer, a TIMCO vice president, said those rounded up in the illegal-immigration sweep were skilled mechanics whose only problem was "the location on earth where they were performing their duties and their (right) to be here."
Latimer said that all their work was double checked by FAA-licensed supervisors who weren't illegal immigrants and, often, by additional quality-control inspectors.
"All of the work that these individuals did had to be accepted by properly trained and certified inspection personnel," Latimer said.
Federal agents detained 27 workers at TIMCO, 24 of whom are charged with being in the United States illegally. Most came from labor contractors who provide TIMCO with temporary workers. TIMCO was not implicated, agents said.
But the director of a union representing airlines mechanics suggested it would be hard to properly supervise so many people. He said the situation at TIMCO is only the tip of the iceberg for a problem affecting aviation nationwide.
"It is hard to believe management can watch all these illegal immigrants at their work place," said O.V. Delle-Femine of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, a union representing 18,000 mechanics. "How many individuals come under the supervisor's purview? Is it 10, 20 or 30 assigned to one supervisor?"
Meanwhile, an official with one of TIMCO's labor contractors had a hearing Wednesday on criminal charges stemming from the arrests and was denied bail. Jorge Ruiz-Alonso, 60, a Venezuelan, is accused of helping an illegal immigrant get work at TIMCO using fake green and Social Security cards.
Ruiz-Alonso, himself accused of being an illegal immigrant, worked five years for Structural Modification and Repair Technicians, or S.M.A.R.T., a labor contractor that put four of those charged as illegal immigrants at TIMCO.
One of Ruiz-Alonso's friends who attended the hearing, Ninel Perez, said he should not be considered an illegal immigrant and that he did not do wrong at TIMCO.
"He was one of the guys who would say to people, 'You don't have (legal immigration) papers. Come back when you have papers,' " she said, meaning he refused to hire illegal immigrants to work at TIMCO.
Ruiz-Alonso has been in the United States since about 1980, not 1993 as the government contends, she said. He belongs to a group of pre-1982, illegal immigrants whose status was clouded by class-action lawsuits settled recently after dragging on for a decade, Perez said.
He was taking steps to apply for citizenship through a settlement in the cases when he was arrested, Perez said.
Special Agent D. Brent Perley of the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement testified that the roundup at TIMCO took place after investigators heard "from a variety of sources" about illegal immigrants in the aviation-maintenance plant at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
In a search of Ruiz-Alonso's office at the airport, agents confiscated his S.M.A.R.T. computer hard drive and several boxes of documents, which agents are examining, Perley said.
He said federal immigration files contain only one transaction with Ruiz-Alonso in the mid-1990s, a petition to visit a year as a farm worker.
FAA spokeswoman Bergen said she could not identify the five facing immigration charges who hold A&P licenses at TIMCO. Latimer declined to identify them.
A check of the FAA's Web site showed three with mechanical licenses: Peruvian Percy Vega Sr., 53, Panamanian Jorge Chacon, 53, and Adonisio Hungwe, 44, of Zimbabwe.
So far, only one of the five, Vega, has been charged with a crime linked to the licensing. He is accused of qualifying to take the licensing test by misleading FAA officials in Greensboro about his experience in airplane repair.
Some of the A&P licensees believed to be illegal immigrants may have performed the sophisticated repair tasks at TIMCO that their license allowed; others worked on less technical areas, Latimer said.
But none of them single-handedly did anything that was not inspected in detail by at least one supervisor, he said.
Illigal aliens taking jobs that American's will not do!!
We will have to CAMP OUT on the steps of the Capitol and the White House because our Wlwcted Representatives are Representing everyone but the American People. They send our sons and daughter's to war, they return dead and injured. Medical and Psychiatric treament is to expensive for them, but the politicians happily have Emergency Meetings to give away our tax money by the billions.
When will the Congress and the President start being American Citizens and carry out the will of the American People they are supposed to be representing.
Illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans in EVERY skill and trade. This is an outrage.
Dave Latimer: shrewd businessman, global economics expert, human rights advocate, and man voted least likely to get a slap on the wrist - if even that - over this incident.
I highly doubt that the soup kitchens in Greensboro, NC are filled with unemployed airplane mechanics. More likely, the airline mechanics unions priced themselves out of jobs and the is another group of highly skilled airplane mechanics has filled that vacuum.
It's the laws of supply & demand at work.
Well THAT makes me feel a whooooooole lot better.
It must get damned expensive to have at least one supervisor inspect "in detail" everything your skilled employees do.