Sheriff Fears Illegal Immigrants Cleaning Oil

Clean up workers hired by BP wear protective boots and gloves as they walk along the beach looking for clumps of sandy oil that washed up on Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, June 3, 2010. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster has started washing ashore on the Alabama coast. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) AP Photo/Dave Martin

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.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

ICE spokesman Brian Hale says the agency has not conducted any work site enforcement at the request of local officials and has not made any arrests.

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.

More on the Gulf Oil Spill:

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Oil Spill Wildlife Devastation
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Palin to Obama: "What the Heck, Give Me a Call"
BP's Spill Contingency Plans Vastly Inadequate
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BP Rig Not the Only One Leaking Oil in Gulf
White House to Allow for Shallow Water Oil Drilling
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