DALLAS - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday that its local teams of officers arrested 99 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 Oct. 5, and made the arrests in Dallas, Denton and Lewisville, Texas. Those arrested are from the following countries: Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, Mexico, Nepal and Nicaragua.
"One of the key goals of the Fugitive Operations Program is to help maintain the integrity of the immigration system," said Nuria T. Prendes, field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Dallas, Texas. "However, the Fugitive Operations Teams also help improve community safety by actively targeting, arresting and ultimately deporting aliens with criminal backgrounds." Prendes oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the State of Oklahoma.
Fifty eight of those arrested had final orders of deportation; 41 were immigration violators encountered during the course of the targeted operation; 22 of those arrested had previous criminal convictions.
During fiscal year 2008, the two local ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in Dallas and one in Oklahoma City have made 1,629 arrests. Of this total, 1,312 were fugitive aliens who had failed to comply with their outstanding deportation orders; 317 - including 34 with criminal convictions - were encountered by the ICE Fugitive Operations Teams during their targeted arrests.
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 95 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed across the country.
In fiscal year 2008, ICE's NFOP has made more than 33,997 arrests nationwide, which included more than 25,000 fugitives. Additionally, in 2007 and for the first time in history, the nation's fugitive alien population declined and continues to do so, in large part because of the work of the NFOP. 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.
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.