GARDEN CITY, Kan. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Wednesday that its local team of officers that track down fugitive aliens arrested 48 criminal, fugitive aliens and immigration violators in western Kansas as part of a five-day operation that ended Tuesday night.
"Fugitive aliens" are illegal aliens who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or who abscond after having been ordered to leave the country by a federal immigration judge.
The fugitive operations team based in Kansas City, Mo., made 33 arrests in Garden City and 15 arrests in Dodge City, Kan. Those arrested are from the following countries: El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Vietnam.
"The ICE Fugitive Operations Teams help maintain the integrity of the immigration system," said Kenneth Carlson, assistant field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Kansas City, Mo. "Anyone who ignores a judge's deportation order will be located, arrested and returned to their country of origin." Carlson oversees the states of Kansas and Missouri.
"This operation in particular shows how our Fugitive Operation Teams help remove criminal aliens from the street, and help make communities safer," continued Carlson. Thirty three of those arrested had previous criminal convictions. Five women and 43 men were arrested during this operation.
The aliens arrested by the Fugitive Operations Team during this west Kansas operation have been convicted of the following crimes: felony abuse of a child, aggravated battery, aggravated burglary, possessing and selling cocaine, aggravated identity theft, battery of a law enforcement officer, forgery, drunken driving, domestic battery, arson, bodily harm with a weapon, theft, and other crimes.
ICE has established 75 Fugitive Operations Teams nationwide that are specially trained and dedicated solely to identifying, locating and arresting aliens who have absconded after receiving deportation orders. The increased FY 2008 budget allocates funds for implementing an additional 29 teams nationally.
Through May 31 of fiscal year 2008, which began Oct. 1, 2007, 1,167 illegal aliens were arrested by the Fugitive Teams in the six-state area covered by the Chicago ICE office, which includes the State of Kansas. Of the total, 951 were fugitive aliens; 216 were immigration violators encountered by the ICE Fugitive Operations Team during their targeted arrests. Of the 1,167 apprehended, 164 had criminal convictions in addition to their administrative immigration violations. In all of fiscal year 2006, Fugitive Operations Teams in the six-state area arrested 1,043 aliens.
ICE established its Fugitive Operations Program in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced. Today, ICE has 84 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed across the country, and an additional 20 teams will be added by Sept. 30.
Last year, the fugitive operations teams nearly doubled the number of 2006 arrests, increasing from 15,000 to more than 30,000. Additionally, in 2007, the nation's fugitive alien population declined for the first time in history and continues to do so, in large part because of the work of the Fugitive Operations Teams. Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at approximately 572,000, a decrease of nearly 23,000 since October 2007.
The Fugitive Operations Teams' successes are attributed, in part, to ICE's expanded partnerships with local law enforcement agencies nationwide, and the newly created Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) in Vermont, which aids in gathering and analyzing information on fugitive cases across the country. This center was opened last year and has since disseminated more than 150,000 case leads to ICE agents.
ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is an integral part of the comprehensive multi-year plan launched by the Department of Homeland Security to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration. That strategy seeks to gain operational control of both the northern and southern borders, while re-engineering the detention and removal system to ensure that illegal aliens are removed from the country quickly and efficiently.