WASHINGTON - This morning U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 42 men illegally present in the country at Dulles International Airport as part of a critical infrastructure protection (CIP) operation. ICE agents, with support of airport security agencies, arrested the illegal aliens just inside the airport grounds at a checkpoint established to verify the identity and immigration status of workers entering a service gate.
"It is crucial to ICE's homeland security mission to know who enters sensitive areas like airports, military bases and power plants to ensure the integrity of these key assets," said Mark X. McGraw, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Office of Investigations, Washington field office. "This operation illustrates ICE's ongoing efforts in partnership with federal and local agencies to secure the critical infrastructure within the National Capital Region."
ICE agents interviewed more than 200 individuals to verify their identities, immigration status, and eligibility for lawful employment in the U.S. Most of the individuals encountered worked on construction projects at the airport. Those detained are being interviewed, fingerprinted, photographed and entered into Department of Homeland Security databases at a local ICE office. Relatives and friends wishing to check on the custody status and detention location of those detained may call 1-866-341-3858, ICE's toll-free, 24-hour hotline.
Among those arrested on Wednesday, were nationals of Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. ICE contacted local consular officials, and community groups to provide accurate information regarding the operation.
Interviews can often generate critical law enforcement information that may lead to future investigations. There is no indication that any of the aliens were involved in any terrorist activity.
ICE agents prioritize enforcement efforts by focusing on the sites related to critical infrastructure and national security. The goal of CIP operations is to reduce the vulnerabilities at these facilities and other key assets to prevent potential attacks. Critical infrastructure has been defined as systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so crucial to the United States that the damage or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economy, public health or safety, and/or any combination of those matters.
Unauthorized workers employed at sensitive facilities such as airports, nuclear power plants, chemical plants, military bases, defense facilities and seaports, may compromise the integrity of these key assets. In FY 2008, ICE agents have made more than 700 administrative arrests and 100 criminal arrests at critical infrastructure facilities.
Transportation Security Administration and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority supported this operation.