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Immigration raids under way in Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. &

Federal authorities raided a southern Arizona business accused of hiring illegal immigrants Friday, three days after immigration agents detained more than 360 workers at a leather factory in Massachusetts.

Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agents were arresting people in the Sierra Vista and Douglas areas of Arizona but she didn't known how many.

The name of the company, the type of business and other details also weren't immediately released. The U.S. Attorney's Office planned to discuss its 16-month investigation later Friday.

In Massachusetts, the raid on the leather manufacturer earlier this week drew criticism over the children left behind at schools and day-care centers after parents were detained.

Gov. Deval Patrick called it a "humanitarian crisis."

One mother was located in Texas after her 7-year-old child called a state hotline set up to help reunite the families. Patrick said the woman would be returned to Massachusetts on Friday along with about a dozen other adults caught in the raid. At least 60 others had already been released for humanitarian reasons, most related to child care. They still must appear before a judge for immigration hearings.

Marc Raimondi, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, had no immediate response to Patrick's comments Friday.

Authorities alleged the leather company, Michael Bianco Inc. in New Bedford, used sweatshop conditions to meet the demands of $91 million in military contracts to make products including safety vests and lightweight backpacks. The Defense Logistics Agency said Thursday it was suspending the company from bidding on future contracts.

Federal agents also raided a party rental company in Southern California on Thursday and arrested 11 workers on immigration violations, authorities said. That company did work at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and the raid was part of an effort by immigration authorities in San Diego to review employment records of military contractors.

In Arizona, immigration agents had promised stepped-up examinations of construction, agricultural, landscaping and service-industry businesses in hopes of deterring illegal hiring and lessening the economic incentive for immigrants to illegally cross the border.

The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that 10 percent of all workers in Arizona's economy are illegal immigrants, a figure that federal officials have called conservative.