ALEXANDRIA, La. — A Nigerian man illegally present in the United States was convicted in federal court Tuesday of obstructing his removal from the country by fighting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers during an attempt to place him aboard a removal flight to his home country.
According to court documents, Emmanuel Nwankwo, 54, began yelling and physically resisted ICE officers who were attempting to place him aboard a commercial flight at the Alexandria International Airport Dec. 11. Due to Nwankwo's actions, which violated Transportation Security Administration and airline policies, he was prevented from boarding the flight.
Nwankwo faces a maximum penalty of four years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 13. Nwankwo was originally encountered by ICE in October 2009 and an appeal of his removal order was rejected by the Board of Immigration Appeals in January 2011. Nwankwo still faces removal from the United States upon the completion of his prison term.
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will continue to dedicate its resources to prosecuting individuals who hamper their removal," said Scott L. Sutterfield, acting field office director for ERO New Orleans. "This case illustrates our close cooperation with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the successful prosecution of egregious immigration law violators who pose a threat to public safety and border security."
Overall, in FY 2012 ICE removed 409,849 individuals. Of these, approximately 55 percent, or 225,390 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors – almost double the removal of criminals in FY 2008.
This includes 1,215 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,557 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 40,448 aliens convicted for crimes involving drugs; and 36,166 aliens convicted for driving under the influence. ICE continues to make progress with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Some 96 percent of all ICE's removals fell into a priority category – a record high.