NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -
A raid by federal, state and local authorities at a Wal-Mart Stores construction site in Pennsylvania netted about 125 arrests for alleged immigration violations.
Schuylkill County Capt. Dennis Kane confirmed the raid to CNN. USA Today reported that the workers were working on a million-square-foot distribution center in eastern Pennsylvania.
Kane said immigrants who were arrested were taken to nearby Philadelphia. The county police worked in conjunction with Pennsylvania state police and federal immigration agents, he said.
Wal-Mart (Research) officials told the newspaper those arrested were employees of a subcontractor and that the nation's largest retailer has contracts with subcontractors requiring that they follow all federal, state and local laws.
"It is our understanding that the individuals taken into custody at the Pottsville distribution center construction site were employees of subcontractors and not Wal-Mart associates," Wal-Mart said in a statement emailed to CNNMoney.com.
"Consistent with our corporate practice, we have written contracts with these subcontractors requiring that they follow all applicable local, state and federal employment laws. We will cooperate fully with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. attorney's office in this matter," the statement said.
But this is not the first time that Wal-Mart has been tarnished by a raid that found illegal immigrants working for its contractors. Two years ago raids at 61 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states resulted in the arrests of about 250 illegal immigrants working on cleaning crews.
USA Today reported Friday that a federal agency affidavit unsealed this month says two Wal-Mart executives knew about the practice of hiring illegal immigrants by the cleaning contractor. Wal-Mart has denied that executives knew about the workers, the newspaper said.
A critic of Wal-Mart said that this latest raid will be another blow to the bad public relations the company has been suffering from lately.
"They're trying to improve their public image ... but they're undermining their own attempts," Paul Blank, campaign director of Washington, D.C.-based WakeUpWalMart.com, told the paper. "There's clearly a pattern where they're violating the law."
The group is a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which would like to represent workers at non-union Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private sector employer.
The company is the target of "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," a new documentary film that is harshly critical of its employment practices and its impact on the U.S. economy.
Wal-Mart stock edged lower in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading.
For more details on the 2003 raids that arrested illegal immigrants at Wal-Mart stores, click here.