WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton today announced the agency's fiscal year (FY) 2012 year-end removal numbers, highlighting trends that underscore the administration's focus on removing from the country convicted criminals and other individuals that fall into priority areas for enforcement. To further focus ICE resources on the most serious criminal offenders, ICE today also issued new national detainer guidance. This guidance limits the use of detainers to individuals who meet the department's enforcement priorities and restricts the use of detainers against individuals arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic offenses and other petty crimes, helping to ensure that available resources are focused on apprehending felons, repeat offenders and other ICE priorities. It is applicable to all ICE enforcement programs, including Secure Communities.
"Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities," said Director Morton. "In order to further enhance our ability to focus enforcement efforts on serious offenders, we are changing who ICE will issue detainers against. While the FY 2012 removals indicate that we continue to make progress in focusing resources on criminal and priority aliens, with more convicted criminals being removed from the country than ever before, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are doing everything we can to utilize our resources in a way that maximizes public safety."
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has directed ICE to focus its resources on key priorities in all aspects of its immigration enforcement efforts. ICE's implementation of this directive includes today's new national detainer policy, as well as the continued use of investigations and programs like Operation Cross Check that target criminal aliens and ICE's expanded collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to remove recent border crossers.
ICE priorities include the identification and removal of those that have broken criminal laws, threats to national security, recent border crossers and repeat violators of immigration law. Overall, in FY 2012 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations 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.
To support DHS' efforts to secure our nation's borders, ICE prioritizes the identification and removal of recent border crossers and conducts targeted enforcement operations with the U.S. Border Patrol. The historic results along the Southwest Border are attributable to the joint efforts of U.S. Border Patrol agents and ICE officers and agents, and the emphasis ICE places on the removal of recent border crossers.
As part of the effort to ensure that the immigration system can focus its resources on priority cases, ICE has also implemented policies and processes that ensure that those enforcing immigration laws make appropriate use of the discretion they have in deciding the types of individuals prioritized for removal from the country. In addition, ICE has also decided not to renew any of its agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies that operate task forces under the 287(g) program. ICE has concluded that other enforcement programs, including Secure Communities, are a more efficient use of resources for focusing on priority cases.
ICE will continue to analyze its policies and the results of its programs, making improvements where necessary to meet our priorities.
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