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06/02/2010

ICE arrests 72 during 2-week operation targeting immigration fugitives

CHICAGO - Local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fugitive operations teams arrested 72 foreign nationals in the Chicago area during a two-week-long enforcement action targeting immigration fugitives and criminal aliens.

The ICE operation, which ran May 10-14 and May 24-28, targeted immigration fugitives with outstanding deportation orders, aliens with criminal records, and previously deported aliens.

Arrests were made in the following communities: Addison, Arlington Heights, Aurora, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Bolingbrook, Bridgeport, Bridgeview, Carol Stream, Carpentersville, Chicago, Darien, DuPage County, Elgin, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Joliet, Lisle, Melrose Park, Mundelein, Naperville, North Chicago, Oswego, Palatine, Palos Hills, Plainfield, River Grove, Rock Island, Round Lake, Waukegan, Willow Springs, Hammond, Ind., and Merrillville, Ind.

Of the 72 arrested, 59 are fugitives with outstanding deportation orders. Immigration fugitives are aliens who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or who abscond after being ordered by a federal immigration judge to leave the country.

The remaining 13 were arrested based on their prior criminal or immigration histories; some of their convictions and arrests include: drug possession, domestic battery, drunken driving, retail theft, residential burglary, and larceny. Seven of those arrested were previously deported aliens.

The arrestees, 65 men and seven women, represent the following countries: China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Israel, Jamaica, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia and South Korea.

"A top priority for the ICE is to enhance public safety by locating and arresting criminal aliens and fugitives, with the ultimate goal of removing them from our country in a safe and humane manner," said Ricardo Wong, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Chicago. "ICE is dedicated to arresting violators who blatantly flout our nation's immigration laws."

The arrestees will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Fugitives with outstanding deportation orders, and those who returned to the U.S. illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country. All others are pending a hearing before an immigration judge.

One of the fugitives in ICE custody is a 54-year-old Jamaican national who was arrested May 25 outside his Waukegan residence. He has a prior criminal conviction for possessing a firearm, and had a loaded pistol at the time of his arrest.

Also arrested was a 50-year-old previously deported Mexican national. He was arrested May 24 in Waukegan and has prior convictions for cocaine possession and retail theft.

Both individuals remain in ICE custody pending removal. For privacy reasons, ICE does not release the names of aliens arrested on administrative immigration charges.

This operation was conducted by ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams, which are responsible for locating, arresting and removing immigration fugitives and at-large criminal aliens. Last year, ICE's FOTs made more than 35,000 arrests nationwide. More than 31,000 of those arrests, or nearly 89 percent, involved immigration fugitives and aliens with prior criminal convictions.

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 under 287(g).