PHOENIX - More than 110 foreign-born criminals currently on probation in Maricopa County have been arrested and now face deportation as a result of a new operation involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), and Maricopa County Adult Probation (ADP). More arrests are anticipated.
Among those being targeted are illegal aliens with felony criminal records, as well as legal permanent residents of the United States whose criminal convictions make them subject to deportation. The arrests so far include people on probation for sex offenses, drug crimes, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes. The operation began in November 2007, using officers and deputies from all three organizations working throughout the county.
"The people we're targeting in this joint effort pose a potential public safety threat," said Katrina S. Kane, field office director of the ICE office of detention and removal operations (DRO). "Identifying and deporting criminal aliens encountered in our jails and in our communities is one of ICE's top enforcement priorities."
"We're not going to stand by and allow deportable criminals to victimize law-abiding members of this community," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
ICE's participation in the task force is just one facet of the agency's Criminal Alien Program, a comprehensive national strategy to identify and remove criminal aliens from the country. In Arizona, DRO has worked closely with state and local corrections authorities since 2006 to identify deportable criminal aliens in the state's jails and prisons. In fiscal year 2007, ICE took custody of more than 4,100 criminal aliens from correctional facilities in Arizona. Nationwide, ICE initiated removal proceedings against more than 164,000 foreign nationals incarcerated in federal, state, and county jails in fiscal year 2007.
Sheriff's officers have been working with ICE under the 287(g) agreement, which allows deputies to enforce both state and federal immigration laws. So far, the Sheriff has had 160 officers trained to perform immigration enforcement functions.