SEATTLE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) recently removed convicted felon, Manuel Garcia Velasco, 58, from the United States to Mexico via ICE Air Operations (IAO) charter, June 23.
On Dec. 8, 2008, Velasco was convicted of lewd conduct with a minor child under the age of 16 and sentenced to prison for 10 years, followed by an indeterminate term of 20 years.
ICE ERO originally encountered Velasco, a citizen of Mexico and lawful permanent resident of the U.S., at the Bingham County Jail in Blackfoot, Idaho, where he was being held as a result of his 2008 conviction. On Dec. 23, 2008, after determining Velasco was amenable to removal proceedings, ICE ERO lodged an immigration detainer with the jail. ICE lodged subsequent immigration detainers Jan. 29, 2009, with the Bingham County Jail and March 5, 2009, with the Idaho Department of Corrections.
On Oct. 25, 2018, Idaho Department of Corrections transferred Velasco to ICE ERO custody and he was housed at the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma, Washington, pending removal proceedings.
On April 29, 2019, Velasco was ordered removed from the US by an immigration judge. ICE focuses its limited resources, first and foremost, on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety and border security and does not target aliens indiscriminately; the agency conducts investigations and gathers intelligence on specific individuals for immigration enforcement.
Targets are often those who were arrested on local criminal charges or have blatant disregard for U.S. immigration laws. The agency's arrest statistics clearly reflect this. Nationally, approximately 86 percent of all people arrested by ICE during fiscal year 2019 either had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, had illegally reentered the United States after being previously removed (a felony charge) or were an immigration fugitive subject to a judge's final order of removal.
In most cases, once aliens pending criminal prosecution are transferred to ICE, or otherwise enter ICE custody, ICE works with the prosecutor and law enforcement authorities, such as the district attorney's office and relevant sheriff's office, to ensure these aliens attend any and all criminal court proceedings. This cooperation involves transferring custody of aliens as necessary via writs of Habeas Corpus to further a criminal prosecution and ensure the alien is returned to ICE custody once the proceedings are finished. Such writs may also be used to ensure that aliens in ICE custody appear in court as witnesses.
"This should be a warning to criminal aliens who are looking to hurt the most vulnerable among us," continued Melendez. "If you're looking to victimize someone and we can get you off the street, rest assured we will do everything we can to protect those you seek to harm."
Aliens processed for removal may receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). EOIR is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE. Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ICE officers carry out the removal decisions made by the federal immigration judges.
To report suspicious activity or instances of child sexual exploitation, contact your local police department. Tips can also be submitted to ICE online at https://www.ice.gov/tipline or by phone at 866-DHS-2-ICE.