SEATTLE - The number of immigration violators deported from three Pacific Northwest states surged nearly 40 percent when compared to the same period last year, according to statistics released today by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In the first nine months of fiscal year 2008 (Oct. 2007 through June 2008), ICE returned 7,345 illegal aliens to their home countries who had been living in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. During that same period last fiscal year, ICE removed 5,256. This year's statistics reflect a 39 percent overall increase in the volume of deportations from the three-state area.
Of the more than 7,300 immigration violators deported since October 2007, 2,024 had prior criminal convictions in addition to being in the country illegally. That figure represents a 26 percent increase in the number of criminal alien deportations compared to last year.
ICE attributes the increase in deportations to the recent expansion of the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), which focuses on identifying criminal aliens incarcerated in federal, state and local facilities. Once a criminal alien is identified, ICE lodges an immigration detainer against the individual to ensure they are turned over to ICE for removal upon completion of their criminal sentence.
"The increase in removals locally and nationally underscores ICE's commitment to upholding our laws and preserving the integrity of our nation's immigration system," said Neil Clark, field office director for ICE detention and removal operations in Seattle. "As a country, we welcome law-abiding immigrants, but foreign nationals who violate our laws and commit crimes in our communities should be on notice that ICE is going to use all of the tools at its disposal to find you and send you home."
The local increase in removals mirrors a national trend. Nationwide, more than 234,000 people have been deported this fiscal year compared to about 210,000 at this time last year.
The removals are part of ICE's ongoing efforts to identify and arrest those who pose a threat to our community and who have no legal right to remain in the country. Those deported include convicted felons who have served time in local, county, state and federal prisons. Others were immigration fugitives who had been ordered removed by an immigration judge, but failed to comply with that order.
Below is a summary of local and national removal statistics from fiscal year 2005 through June 30, 2008.
* Fiscal year runs Oct. 1 - Sept. 30. Fiscal year 2008 data is complete through June 30, 2008.