MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Nine criminal aliens, two fugitives and six repeat immigration violators were arrested during a three-day operation in southeast Alabama that concluded Sunday, conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
ICE's Birmingham fugitive operations team led the effort, which resulted in the arrest of priority targets in multiple Alabama cities including: Montgomery (6), Opelika (5), Auburn (1), Phenix City (1), Eufaula (1), Skipperville (1), Prattville (1) and Clanton (1).
"These arrests of convicted criminals and repeat immigration violators demonstrate ICE's ongoing commitment to public safety," said ERO New Orleans Field Office Director Philip T. Miller. "When ICE prioritizes these individuals for arrest, our officers and agents work tirelessly to pursue the leads." Miller oversees ERO activities in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The nine criminal aliens arrested during the weekend operation have criminal convictions for crimes to include aggravated assault, burglary, drug smuggling, forgery, stalking, drunken driving, hit-and-run and domestic violence.
Two of the 17 arrested are fugitives who failed to depart the country after an immigration judge ordered them removed from the United States. Nine of the illegal aliens arrested – including six convicted criminals – had been previously deported. Illegally re-entering the United States after removal is a felony offense.
These arrests were coordinated with ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program. The program investigates, locates, arrests and removes at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives – aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by the nation's immigration courts. ICE's fugitive operations teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.
ERO is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ERO also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system, including immigration fugitives or criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.
In fiscal year 2011, ERO removed 396,906 individuals nationwide – the largest number in the agency's history. Of these, nearly 55 percent, or 216,698 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence.
ERO achieved similar results with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Ninety percent of all ERO's removals fell into a priority category, and more than two-thirds of the other removals in 2011 were either recent border crossers or repeat immigration violators.