MANASSAS, Va. - Following an enforcement surge by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Virginia State Police, and U.S. Marshals Service along with 10 local law enforcement agencies, ICE arrested 130 foreign nationals with criminal records and eight fugitives in the Northern Virginia area.
During a three-day operation that concluded Tuesday, ICE ERO officers located and arrested 130 criminal aliens with prior convictions for a variety of crimes, including rape, assault, burglary and narcotics possession and eight fugitives and three re-entry cases.
"We are a nation with a proud history of immigration. If you come here lawfully, work hard, and play by the rules, the United States welcomes you with open arms," said ICE Director John Morton. "For those who come here unlawfully and commit crimes at the expense of their neighbors and their communities, we will not rest until we find you and send you home."
"Once again through our working relationship with ICE, Virginia has had the opportunity to continue to safeguard its communities from convicted criminals," said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. "Despite the legal permanent resident status of some of these individuals, their crimes clearly violated the conditions allowing them to legitimately remain in this country. Removing them from our neighborhoods prevents them from victimizing our Virginia residents and businesses again. I applaud the fine work of our local, state, and federal law enforcement."
"Our Deputy U.S. Marshals, as well as the state and local partners that comprise our task force, were honored to partner with ICE for these critical operations," said John Hackman, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia. "We were successful in apprehending a number of individuals that were not only in this country illegally, but also had extensive criminal histories and continued to engage in unlawful conduct."
"Our office has had a longstanding working relationship with ICE that has been a great help to our citizens. This on-going effort underscores the importance of the partnership between ICE and local law enforcement in achieving our core mission, which is to enhance public safety, by removing criminal aliens from our communities," said Loudoun County Sheriff O. Simpson.
During this operation, there were 163 total arrests of which 130 were criminal aliens, eight were fugitives, three had already been deported and came back illegally and 22 were non criminals who were issued a notice to appear in immigration court. Of the 163 arrested, 134 were men and 29 were women. They represent more than 32 different nations, including countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa.
Some of those arrested during this operation include:
- A 21-year-old Mexican national and legal permanent resident of the United States was arrested in Harrisonburg, Virginia without incident on March 20. His criminal history includes convictions for third degree sexual offense for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. He was taken into ICE custody pending a hearing before an immigration judge.
- A 39-year-old Ecuadorian national and legal permanent resident of the United States was arrested in Arlington, Virginia without incident on March 20. His previous criminal convictions include three counts of contributing to delinquency of minor, assault and battery against a family or household member, grand larceny and receiving stolen property, and statutory rape of a child between 13 and 15 years of age. He was taken into ICE custody pending a hearing before an immigration judge.
- A 49-year-old El Salvadoran national and legal permanent resident of the United States was arrested in Woodbridge, Virginia without incident on March 20. His criminal history includes convictions for hit and run, DWI, abuse and neglect of children. He was taken into ICE custody pending a hearing before an immigration judge.
- A 39-year-old British national and legal permanent resident of the United States was arrested in Madison, Virginia without incident on March 21. His criminal history includes a conviction for aggravated sexual battery of a child. He was taken into ICE custody pending a hearing before an immigration judge.
Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, five of those arrested during the enforcement surges will face further federal prosecution for reentering the country illegally after a formal deportation.
Arrests were made in the following counties:
Alexandria: 13; Arlington: 11; Augusta: one; Fairfax: 60; Fauquier: 2; Frederick: 11; Harrisonburg: one; Loudoun: 20; Madison: one; Prince William: 37; Shenandoah: three; Warren: one; Washington: two and in the city of Herndon there were two arrests.
The foreign nationals detained during these operations who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country and may be criminally prosecuted. The remaining aliens are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.
These special enforcement actions were spearheaded by ICE's Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives - aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation issued by the nation's immigration courts. ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams (FOTs) give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.
The officers who conducted this week's special operation received substantial assistance from ICE's Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) located in Williston, Vermont. The FOSC conducted exhaustive database checks on the targeted cases to help ensure the viability of the leads and accuracy of the criminal histories. The FOSC was established in 2006 to improve the integrity of the data available on at large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives nationwide. Since its inception, the FOSC has forwarded more than 550,000 case leads to ICE enforcement personnel in the field.
ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's broader strategy to heighten the federal government's effectiveness at identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens from the United States. Other initiatives that figure prominently in this effort are the Criminal Alien Program, Secure Communities and the agency's partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies under 287(g).
Agencies participating in this operation include ICE ERO's Fugitive Operation Teams from Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Fairfax and Richmond, Va., as well as ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, Fairfax County Police Department, Herndon Police Department, Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, Manassas City Police Department, Manassas Park Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, Prince William County Sherriff's Office, Madison County Sheriff's Office, Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, U.S. Secret Service, Virginia Department of Corrections and Virginia State Police.
Largely as a result of these initiatives, for two years in a row, ICE has removed more aliens than were removed in fiscal year 2008. In fiscal year 2010, half of those removed-more than 195,000-were convicted criminals. The fiscal year 2010 statistics represent increases of more than 23,000 removals overall and 81,000 criminal removals compared to fiscal year 2008-a more than 70 percent increase in removal of criminal aliens from the previous administration.