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Student and Exchange Visitor Program

ICE arrests 40 during 12-day student-visa enforcement operation in north Texas and Oklahoma

DALLAS — Forty immigration status violators, visa overstays and foreign students were arrested for violating the conditions of their nonimmigrant visas during a 12-day operation ending Friday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The 21 men and 19 women were arrested by HSI's Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU), part of a national program designed to prevent terrorists and other criminals from exploiting the nation's immigration system. CTCEU also reviews the immigration status of known and suspected terrorists, combats criminal exploitation of the student and exchange visitor visa program, and leverages HSI's investigative expertise to identify national security threats.

"The 9-11 tragedy identified how critically important it is for us to screen, track and enforce the student visa program in the United States," said David M. Marwell, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas. "Maintaining the integrity of the student visa program is a significant segment of maintaining national security." Marwell oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the state of Oklahoma.

Those arrested are from the following 17 countries: Saudi Arabia (1), Yemen (1), Kenya (15), Azerbaijan (1), Zimbabwe (1), Zambia (1), Nepal (2), Nigeria (4), Gambia (2), Cameroon (3), Grenada (2), Thailand (1), Spain (1), Jamaica (1), Dominica (1), Mexico (2), and Antigua and Barbuda (1).

The 40 arrested were encountered in Edmond, Okla., and the following 12 north Texas cities: Wichita Falls, Tyler, Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene, Arlington, Prosper, Irving, Dallas, Plano, Carrollton and Mansfield. All have been processed for immigration removal proceedings.

In addition to their immigration violations, three of those arrested falsely claimed U.S. citizenship, which is a felony and results in being permanently barred from legally re-entering the United States. During this operation, CTCEU special agents also criminally arrested a Mexican national for illegally re-entering the United States after having been previously deported twice.

ICE officers from Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Dallas also assisted with this operation. In addition to HSI Dallas, special agents from the following HSI sub-offices also participated: San Angelo, Lubbock, Amarillo, Tyler, Wichita Falls and Oklahoma City, Okla.