GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - More than 70 criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators are facing deportation and criminal charges following a four-day enforcement operation spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Fugitive Operations Teams (FOTs) in and around Grand Rapids, Mich.
During the operation, which concluded late yesterday, ICE made a total of 77 arrests in Kent, Calhoun, Ottawa, Kalamazoo, Berrien, St. Joseph and Mason counties.
Of those taken into custody, 22 were aliens with prior criminal convictions, six had been previously deported who returned to the United States illegally after being removed, and 35 were immigration fugitives who failed to comply with a final order of deportation issued by an immigration judge. The remaining illegal aliens arrested were encountered by ERO officers during the course of the four-day operation.
Their criminal histories included prior arrests and convictions for a variety of violations, including manslaughter, criminal sexual conduct, weapons violations, reentry after deportation, and assault and disorderly conduct among others. Since many of the individuals have outstanding orders of deportation or have been previously deported, they are subject to immediate removal from the country.
"A top priority for the Detroit Field Office is to locate and arrest criminal aliens and ultimately remove them from our country in a safe and humane manner," said Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ICE ERO in Detroit. "This operation is yet another example of the critical role that targeted immigration enforcement plays in protecting our communities."
Below are two case examples of those arrested during this operation:
- A 32-year-old man from Laos who is a permanent resident had prior convictions for manslaughter and discharge of a firearm from a moving vehicle. He was arrested at his home and will remain in custody until his appearance before a federal immigration judge.
- A 46-year-old man from Mexico who is a permanent resident has been convicted for criminal sexual conduct against a victim under the age of thirteen. He was arrested at his home and will remain in custody until his appearance before a federal immigration judge.
The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan has accepted prosecution for four aliens who reentered the U.S. after being deported, two others are pending a prosecution decision. If convicted, they face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The remaining aliens will be held by ICE pending the completion of their criminal cases, a hearing before an immigration judge, or the completion of travel arrangements.
The group included 64 males and 13 females from five different countries - Mexico (41), Guatemala (27), Honduras (7), Laos (1), China (1).
This enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE's Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives. ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams (FOTs) give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.
As a result of the FOT's efforts, the nation's fugitive alien population continues to decline. Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States as slightly under 525,000, a decrease of more than 71,000 since October 2007.
Largely as a result of these initiatives, ICE last year removed more than 392,800 aliens from the United States, which is a record number; of that number more than 195,700 were aliens with criminal convictions.
ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's broader strategy to heighten the federal government's effectiveness at identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens from the United States. Other initiatives that figure prominently in this effort are the Criminal Alien Program, Secure Communities and the agency's partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies under 287(g).