CHICAGO - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 144 fugitives and immigration violators in Chicago, suburban communities, and northern Indiana during a four-day initiative targeting immigration absconders which ended Monday.
"Fugitive aliens" are illegal aliens who failed to appear for their immigration hearings, or who absconded after having been ordered to leave the country by a federal immigration judge.
During the four-day operation which began Sept. 12, four local ICE Fugitive Operations Teams targeted immigration fugitives in the Chicago area and northern Indiana. Of those arrested, 110 were fugitives targeted by ICE since they already had final orders of deportation; 34 were immigration violators encountered by ICE officers during their targeted arrests.
The Chicago ICE office oversees a six-state area that includes: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin. ICE agents made the arrests in Chicago and the following 13 Illinois communities: Beach Park, Country Club Hills, Gurnee, Grayslake, Harwood Heights, Libertyville, North Chicago, Nottingham Park, Round Lake, Skokie, Waukegan, Willowbrook and Zion. The targeted northern Indiana fugitives were residents of the following five cities: Elkhart, Goshen, Mishawaka, Nappanee and South Bend.
"ICE has teams located across the country to specifically target anyone who ignores deportation orders handed down by federal immigration judges," said Glenn Triveline, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Chicago. "ICE uses all the tools and resources at our disposal to locate fugitives who show a blatant disregard for our nation's immigration laws."
Those arrested during the four-day operation are from the following 26 countries: Albania, Belize, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia and Yugoslavia.
The U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force assisted ICE in this enforcement action.
During the first 11 months of fiscal year 2008, which began Oct. 1, the local ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the six-state area covered by the Chicago ICE office have made 1,597 arrests. Of the total, 1,292 were fugitive aliens who had failed to comply with their outstanding deportation orders; 305 were immigration violators 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.
So far this year, ICE's NFOP has made more than 30,000 arrests nationwide, which included more than 23,000 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.