DALLAS — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday that its officers arrested 69 fugitive aliens and other immigration violators here and in surrounding communities as part of a five-day operation that ended Thursday.
“Fugitive aliens” are illegal aliens who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or who abscond after having been ordered to leave the country by a federal immigration judge.
Three local fugitive operations teams began the operation January 11, and made the targeted arrests in the following Metroplex cities: Arlington, Bedford, Carrollton, Colleyville, Dallas, Denton, Duncanville, Euless, Farmers Branch, Fort Worth, Irving, Garland, McKinney, Plano, and Richardson. Those arrested are from the following countries: China, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Mexico and Venezuela.
“This operation removed 16 criminal aliens from our communities,” said Nuria T. Prendes, field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Dallas, Texas. “Our Fugitive Operations Teams work to protect public safety, and maintain the integrity of the immigration system.” Prendes oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the State of Oklahoma.
Fifty-five of those arrested had final orders of deportation; the remaining 14 were immigration violators encountered during the course of the targeted operation.
Among those arrested was Rene Alberto Benavides, a citizen of El Salvador, who was located by ICE officers January 11 at his Dallas residence. Benavides was ordered deported by a federal immigration judge in September of 2007. He was previously convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
ICE established its National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced. Today, ICE has more than 100 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed across the country.
The three ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the Dallas area of responsibility in fiscal year 2008 made more than 1,600 arrests. Of this total, more than 1,300 were fugitive aliens who had failed to comply with their outstanding deportation orders; 317 — including 34 with criminal convictions — were illegal aliens encountered by the ICE Fugitive Operations Teams during their targeted arrests.
In fiscal year 2008, ICE’s NFOP made 34,000 arrests nationwide, which included more than 25,000 fugitives. As a result of these efforts, the nation’s fugitive alien population continues to decline. Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at just under 560,000, a decrease of nearly 37,000 during the fiscal year. This is a historic reversal of the continuous growth trend in fugitive cases from previous years.
ICE’s Fugitive Operations Program is an integral part of the comprehensive multi-year plan launched by the Department of Homeland Security to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration. That strategy seeks to gain operational control of both the northern and southern borders, while re-engineering the detention and removal system to ensure that illegal aliens are removed from the country quickly and efficiently.
The following 18 law enforcement agencies assisted ICE with the arrests during this operation: Arlington Police Department, Bedford Police Department, Dallas Police Department, Dallas County Constables, Denton Police Department, Denton County Sheriff’s Department, Denton County Probation, Duncanville Police Department, Euless Police Department, Farmers Branch Police Department, Fort Worth Police Department, Irving Police Department, Garland Police Department, Carrollton Police Department, Richardson Police Department, Plano Police Department, Colleyville Police Department, and the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department.