Saturday, September 27, 2008

ICE teams arrest 63 immigrants across state, in Edmond (The Edmond Sun)

ICE teams arrest 63 immigrants across state, in Edmond

EDMOND — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Friday that its local teams of officers arrested 63 fugitive immigrants and other immigration violators here and in surrounding communities as part of a five-day operation that ended Wednesday.

“Fugitive aliens” are illegal immigrants who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or who abscond after having been ordered to leave the country by a federal immigration judge.

Two local fugitive operations teams and other area officers began the operation last weekend and made the arrests in the following seven Oklahoma communities: Oklahoma City, Norman, Harrah, Mustang, Edmond, Chickasha, Jones and other surrounding areas.

Those arrested are from the following eight countries: El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Ghana, Guatemala and Honduras.

The fugitive operations teams and other officers that coordinated their efforts in this latest west Oklahoma operation are based in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lubbock, Texas.

“Our Fugitive Operations Teams are specially trained and solely dedicated to target fugitive aliens to help maintain the integrity of the immigration system,” Nuria T. Prendes, field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Dallas, Texas, said in a news release. “If you ignore a judge’s order of removal, ICE will find you, arrest you and you will be returned to your home country.”

Forty-five of those arrested had final orders of deportation; 18 were immigration violators encountered during the course of the targeted operation.

Nine of those arrested had criminal convictions, which included voluntary manslaughter, possessing and distributing controlled substances, grand larceny, extortion, assault, burglary, larceny and drunken driving. Two are gang members.

Two other gang members had nine outstanding state warrants; they were released to the Oklahoma City Police Department to first resolve their pending charges. The Oklahoma City Police Department collaborated with arresting the violent criminal targets.

During the first 11 months of Fiscal Year 2008, which began Oct. 1, the local ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the area covered by the Dallas ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations have made 1,493 arrests. Of this total, 1,203 were fugitive aliens who had failed to comply with their outstanding deportation orders; 290 — including 32 with criminal convictions — were encountered by the ICE Fugitive Operations Teams during their targeted arrests.

ICE established its National Fugitive Operations Program in 2003 to eliminate the nation’s backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced.

Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at about 570,000, a decrease of nearly 25,000 since October 2007.

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