MIAMI - More than 110 immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested here following a five-day targeted enforcement action last week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) Miami fugitive operations teams. This enforcement effort focused on identifying fugitives residing in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa areas.
During the operation, which concluded Friday, ICE deportation officers and immigration enforcement agents arrested 96 immigration fugitives and 15 immigration violators. The breakdown of the arrests by county is as follows: 43 in Miami-Dade; 23 in Broward; 13 in Palm Beach; 16 in Orlando and 16 in Tampa.
"ICE helps to maintain the integrity of our nation's immigration system by identifying, arresting and removing aliens who have ignored a judge's order to leave the country," said Michael Rozos, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Florida. "While we are a welcoming country, we expect those wanting to immigrate here to do so in a safe, legal and orderly manner. We will continue using all our resources to ensure that removal orders are carried out and locate these immigration violators who potentially pose a threat to public safety."
Twenty of those arrested had criminal histories that spanned from cocaine trafficking, prostitution, human rights violations, weapons offenses, marijuana possession, DUI, resisting arrest, theft, burglary, battery, narcotics possession and distribution. Sixty-nine individuals arrested remain in ICE custody and 42 were processed for removal and released on ICE supervision as part of the Alternatives to Detention Program (ATD). In these cases, ICE DRO officers exercised prosecutorial discretion by placing aliens with final orders of removal, who were verified to be sole caregivers or as having medical concerns, on orders of supervision.
The ATD Program was originally created to ensure appearance at immigration hearings by aliens who were determined not to pose a threat to national security or community safety and who did not pose an unacceptable flight risk. This program has provided effective community based supervision to eligible aliens. The departure of those placed on the orders of supervision will be verified by deportation officers.
An immigration fugitive is someone who has ignored a final order of deportation by a federal immigration judge. Those fugitives have already been ordered deported and are subject to immediate removal from the United States. The individuals who have illegally re-entered the U.S. after deportation are also subject to immediate removal from the U.S. The other immigration violators arrested during this operation who have not already been ordered removed, have been charged with immigration violations and placed into removal proceedings. They await hearings before an immigration judge.
Following are two of the criminal aliens arrested by ICE's Fugitive Operations Team during this targeted enforcement action:
- Franklin Madrid, 34, a native and citizen of Honduras who resided in Hollywood, Florida. Madrid entered the United States illegally on an unknown date and location without inspection. He was placed into removal proceedings due to his illegal entry and failed to appear before an immigration judge, resulting in a removal order issued in absentia in 1997. Madrid filed for temporary protected status which was denied due to a kidnapping arrest in Miami Beach, Fla. in 1995. Madrid pled guilty to a lesser charge of false imprisonment later that year. Madrid was again arrested in 1997 for aggravated assault with a weapon and subsequently pleaded guilty in 1998. Madrid is being held in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States.
- Piedad Christina Perez-Valderrama, 44, a native and citizen of Colombia who resided in Coral Gables, Florida. Perez-Valderrama entered the United States as a visitor on October 8, 1987 through San Ysidro, California. She was granted permission to remain in the United States until November 7, 1987. Perez violated the terms of her admission by remaining in the United States beyond the term permitted. Perez was ordered removed by an immigration judge in 1994. An appeal filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals was denied in 2005. In 1989, Perez was convicted in California for transporting/selling narcotics. Perez is being held in ICE custody pending removal from the United States.
The ICE Fugitives Operation Teams locate and detain illegal aliens who have ignored their final orders of deportation. The Fugitive Operations Program (FOP) was established in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced. In fiscal year 2008, ICE's fugitive operations teams made nearly 34,000 arrests nationwide, which included more than 25,000 fugitives. Additionally, in 2007, the nation's fugitive alien population declined for the first time in history and continues to do so in large part due to the work of the fugitive operations teams and our Fugitive Operations Support Center, which helps to clear outstanding cases. Estimates now place the number of fugitive alien cases at slightly under 560,000, a decrease of nearly 37,000 from the beginning of FY 2008. Much of the credit for those results can be attributed to the rapid expansion of the program. Today, ICE has approximately 100 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed nationwide to pursue these types of cases. Locally, the ICE Florida Field Office has seven operational teams.
Those arrested represent countries around the globe including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Honduras, Argentina, Dominica, Guyana, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Tunisia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Romania, and El Salvador. 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. The plan also involves strong interior enforcement efforts, including enhanced worksite enforcement and intensified efforts to track down and remove illegal aliens inside the United States.