ATLANTA - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 92 fugitives aliens and three immigration violators throughout Georgia and the Carolinas during a four-day initiative targeting immigration fugitives.
The ICE fugitive operations team began the operation Jan. 26, and made the arrests in Gwinnett County, Georgia; Alamance, Guilford, Durham, Siler, Wake counties in North Carolina; and Charleston, South Carolina.
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.
Ninety-two of those arrested had final orders of deportation, three were immigration violators encountered during the course of the targeted operation; 24 of those arrested had previous criminal convictions that spanned from DUI, larceny and felony credit card fraud, assault, and first degree burglary.
The breakdown of the arrests by area is as follows: 44 in Atlanta; 21 in the Charlotte, North Carolina area; 20 in Raleigh, and 10 in the Charleston area.
"One of the key goals of the Fugitive Operations Program is to help maintain the integrity of the immigration system and people who defy the law should not be surprised when a fugitive team arrests them," said Felicia S. Skinner, acting field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Atlanta, "ICE's fugitive operations teams also help improve community safety by actively targeting, arresting and ultimately deporting aliens with criminal backgrounds."
During fiscal year 2008, ICE's fugitive operations teams executed more than 34,000 arrests nationwide; more than double the total just two years ago. At the end of FY 2008, there were approximately 560,000 fugitive alien cases - a decrease of nearly 37,000 since the beginning of the fiscal year. This is a historic reversal of the previous growth trend in fugitive cases.
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 101 fugitive operations teams deployed across the country. 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.